On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the CARE for Moms Act (H.R. 5568 & S. 2846), which is an extension of the Mothers and Offspring Mortality & Morbidity Awareness (MOMMA) Act that has been introduced in previous sessions of Congress.
The legislation seeks to establish a new federal entitlement program that addresses critical issues related to maternal health, access to prenatal and postpartum care, and seeks to provide the resources that mothers and babies need to thrive. Its funding relies largely on significant tax increase mechanisms targeting tobacco products, which include premium cigars. Given that there is no health rationale that would warrant inclusion of a hand made product that doesn’t have the mortality, morbidity, and youth usage concerns at the population level of mass-market tobacco products, we firmly maintain that premium cigars shouldn’t be used as a funding vehicle for these public policy health goals.
This bill’s language is incredibly impactful for premium cigars, as it removes the existing federal tax rate of 52.75 percent, which currently caps the tax at 40.26 cents per cigar, and replaces it with a weight-based tax of $49.56 per pound, which is uncapped.
This change would fundamentally alter the cost of premium cigars. Moving to a weight-based taxation scheme disproportionately affects premium cigars, as they are significantly larger than mass-market products on a per-unit basis.
Mike Copperman, Director of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs at CRA, stated on the bill’s release, “Addressing maternal health and providing access to programs and resources to mothers and babies is a fundamental issue that merits attention. However, prescribing massive tax increases on premium cigars and other tobacco products is not the way to achieve this, as it would result in considerable harm towards our legal, hand made, products and thus, CRA fundamentally opposes this bill in its current form.”