Chicago Raises Smoking Age To 21, Exempts Feminine Hygiene Products From Sales Tax

Image courtesy of (Wesa)

Yesterday, the Chicago City Council voted to approve a pair of hot-button measures: One that raises the minimum age for buying cigarettes in the Windy City, and another that does away with the so-called “pink tax” or  “tampon tax” on feminine hygiene products.

21 & Up

The Chicago Tribune reports that the city council voted 35-10 to approve upping the minimum age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21.

In addition to raising the smoking age, under the anti-smoking plan, Chicago will no longer accept coupons or discounts on smoking products.

The measure also made changes to the city’s tobacco tax, by increasing fees tacked on to cigars, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco.

Taxes on small cigars will increase $0.20, while the per-ounce tax on roll-your-own tobacco will now be $1.80.

In all, the tax increase is expected to bring in an additional $6 million. The city already had the nation’s highest cigarette tax at $7.17 per pack, the Tribune reports.

A separate measure was also approved, banning the use of chewing tobacco at the city’s baseball games and other professional and amateur sporting events. The Tribune reports that it’s unclear how that ban would be enforced.

No More Tampon Tax

While the Illinois state legislature is considering a bill to exempt feminine hygiene and incontinence products from state sales tax, the Chicago City Council has gone ahead and voted to stop collecting city sales taxes on these items.

Taxes on tampons and similar products have drawn a lot of attention from critics who believe they are unfair and unevenly applied.

Earlier this month, five women in New York sued the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance, claiming that the “department’s double standard for men and women finds no support in the tax law and serves no purpose other than to discriminate.”

Aldermen raise smoking age, OK 50-cent cab credit card fee, ban chewing tobacco at games [The Chicago Tribune]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.