As someone who travels for business, I'm always interested to see how much the price of a cigar differs from one state to another.
For example, in Round Rock, Texas, at Spec's, I can get a Rocky Patel Edge Sumatra for around $5 a stick. That same cigar at Straus Tobacconist in Cincinnati is $8. At Anthony's Pipe & Cigar Lounge in Minneapolis, it's $9.
That's a swing of almost 70%!
If you've traveled yourself, you might have noticed how much your cigars change in price from one location to the next. Well, after thousands of miles on the road, and after speaking with Mike, the owner of Rudy's Cigars in Love Park, Illinois, I decided to do a little digging.
Here's what I found.
Yes, I know this is a map of cigarette tax rates, but from what I've found is that either A) cigars are taxed the same as cigarettes, or B) the taxes levied on either type are proportionately the same. In other words, while the percentages might change a little bit, the states with the highest taxes on one type of tobacco will likely have the highest taxes on the other types as well.
When Mike (from above) mentioned that he paid 36% in taxes, I almost didn't believe him. And that 36% doesn't include the 8.25% local sales tax. When he told me that 44% of the price of my cigar was taxes, I was stunned!
This post isn't about why we have taxes or even why some states charge more than others. And, personally, I think most taxes are stupid and that the government is the biggest mobster of all time.
The goal of this post is to list which states have the highest cigar taxes so we can all better understand why our cigars cost so much.
States with the Highest Tobacco Taxes (Highest to Lowest)
- District of Columbia
- New York
- Rhode Island
- New Jersey
When you look at the list above (Source: CDC) it's easy to see why my $5 cigar in Texas cost $9 in Minnesota (Texas ranks in the lower half).
States with the Lowest Tobacco Taxes (Highest to Lowest)
- West Virginia
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
So, if you're looking for the cheapest place to buy cigars in the United States, according to the CDC, that place would likely be in Missouri.
Alternatively, I feel bad for my fellow cigar smokers who live in DC, Connecticut, and New York, as their cigar taxes, I'm sure, are astronomical.
Fun fact: Taxes in Connecticut and New York are 25.6 times as much as they are in Missouri! OUCH! (source)
Fun fact: As of 2016, on average, federal and state excise taxes contribute to 44.3% of the retail price!
So, if you're like me, and you get sticker shock when you walk into your local humidor, keep these statistics in mind. Sometimes the price of your favorite cigar isn't high because the store owner is trying to price gouge you. The price is usually super-inflated due to taxes on tobacco.