This week two bills were heard in the MN Senate that would reclassify "little cigars" as cigarettes for purposes of taxation (SF134 and SF135). The bill is necessary because tobacco companies are exploiting this loophole in the definition to avoid higher taxes on cigarettes. Currently, a pack of 20 little cigars is about $2, compared to over $5 for cigarettes due to the higher tax rate on cigarettes. Little cigars look identical to cigarettes, the only difference being a small amount of tobacco in the paper which makes them brown. They carry the same health risks and to add insult to injury, they are sold in flavors like grape, peach, and chocolate--these flavors are banned for regular cigarettes. The bills were laid over for possible inclusion in a future omnibus tax bill--the first important step to ultimate passage by the legislature. Pictured is Ora Hokes, an AHA Power to End Stroke Ambassador, testifying in favor of the bill. Also pictured are the chief authors Sen. Carla Nelson (on far right) and Sen. Kari Dziedzic (second from right). We thank both senators for their leadership in protecting our children from these outrageous products.