Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is seeking a tax hike on cigars, chewing tobacco and loose, roll-your-own cigarettes, the Tribune reports. It's estimated that the tax would collect around $6 million every year. The measure will be brought to the City Council this week.
The resulting tax dollars would go toward two Chicago Public Schools summer programs, one to help incoming high schoolers transition to the new school and another for at-risk eighth graders. The funds would not go toward the CPS's troubled 2016 budget that remains stuck in the state legislature.
The plan calls for a 90-cent tax on individual cigars, a $1.80 per ounce tax on smokeless chewing tobacco and a whopping $6.60 per ounce tax on loose rolling tobacco, commonly sold in pouches. Also targeted are "little cigars," which would be given a 15-cent tax on each individual unit, raising the cost of a 20-pack of Swisher Sweets from $5.79 to $8.79, the mayor's office said. Similarly, the cost of a 1.2-ounce can of chewing tobacco would rise from $4.19 to $6.35 and a pouch of rolling tobacco would increase from $7.25 to $11.54.
This comes on the heels of a measure taxing the hell out of e-cigarettes in the already tax-heavy $755 million 2016 budget, which raised the price of liquid vaping nicotine by an extra $8 to $15 per bottle.
In 2014, the city levied a 50-cent per-pack tax on cigarettes at Rahm's suggestion, making Chicago's $7.17 per-pack tax the highest on cigarettes in the nation. Smokers, perhaps it's time to start taking your New Year's resolutions a bit more seriously.