Today, Senator Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Minneapolis) and Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) introduced bills in the Minnesota Legislature to reclassify cigarette-type “little cigars” as what they really are – cigarettes.
Like cigarettes, “little cigars” are filtered and usually come in packs of 20. However, because of a loophole, they are incorrectly classified as “other tobacco products” in law, which gives them favorable tax and regulatory treatment.
“Little cigars” are also not subject to the federal ban on flavored cigarettes and are sold in flavors such as chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. This, combined with their purchase price of less than $2 a pack, makes them both appealing to and affordable for children. Selling tobacco in flavors that mimic kid-friendly products such as candy or ice cream is one of the tactics the tobacco industry uses to entice youth to start smoking.
Sen. Dziedzic’s bill (SF134) and Sen. Nelson’s bill (SF135) are important steps toward protecting the health of Minnesota kids. The Senate Tax Reform Committee will be discussing little cigars during a hearing they are holding this Wednesday. You can email committee members to share your thoughts here.