Scott Dibble takes aim at tobacco products

Scott Dibble takes aim at tobacco products

If you've been smoking "little cigars" like the classily-advertised Remington Good Times brand, your life may be about to get more expensive.

DFL state Sen. D. Scott Dibble of Minneapolis has introduced legislation that will update the state's laws to include tobacco products currently exempt from the taxation and regulation applied to cigarettes.

"Our taxation and youth access laws were written for a 20th-century market," said Kerri Gordon, a spokeswoman for ClearWay Minnesota, an anti-tobacco group supporting the bill. "The 21st-century environment looks completely different, and we need to update our laws to reflect that."

Current laws add a total of $1.56 in taxes and fees to the cost of each pack of cigarettes. But a loophole in the law allowed little cigars, which are shaped and sized like cigarettes and are also sold in 20-packs, to escape most of these levies  because their brown wrappers contain a small amount of nicotine.

From the time the tax discrepancy was created in 1998 until 2005, the use of little cigars more than doubled.

Dibble's legislation will expand the state's tobacco-product law to include little cigars. It also anticipates a whole new generation of future-forward smokeless nicotine delivery devices currently in test markets around the country. These products, like sticks, strips and orbs, were so far beyond the imagining of the legislators of yesteryear that health advocates worry there's little on the books to keep kids from consuming them by the fistful.

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