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Cigarette Tax

Effective immediately, retailers are prohibited from selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. According to guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration, it is illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes, to anyone under 21. The change to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was enacted on December 20, 2019.

Retailers are expected to follow the law and take measures to ensure that customers purchasing tobacco products are 21 or older.

Additional guidance from the FDA can be found here.

Cigarette tax is an excise tax on the sale or possession of cigarettes and little cigars in Pennsylvania. Effective August 1, 2016, the state tax rate is $2.60 per pack of 20 cigarettes or little cigars ($0.13 per stick), or $26 per carton of 10 packs.

Additionally, the cost of the retailer was changed from 6 percent to 7 percent. The “Cost of the Retailer” is defined as the basic cost of cigarettes to the retailer plus the cost of doing business by the retailer in excess of the basic cost of cigarettes, this is expressed as a percentage and applied to the basic cost of cigarettes.

Cigarette stamping agents are responsible for remitting the tax to the commonwealth and apply tax stamps to cigarette packs and stampable little cigars to indicate payment of tax. All cigarettes and stampable little cigars legally sold in Pennsylvania are marked with a Pennsylvania cigarette tax stamp on the bottom of each pack.

In addition to the cigarette tax, consumers pay a 6 percent sales and use tax on the retail purchase price of cigarettes and little cigars, with an additional 1 percent local sales tax in Allegheny County and 2 percent local sales tax in Philadelphia County.

Cigarette tax revenue is currently dedicated to the following funds and General Fund:

  • $30.73 million annually to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance to uninsured children and teens; and
  • $25.49 million annually to the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund, which helps preserve Pennsylvania farmland.
  • For detailed and historic cigarette tax information, please review the Tax Compendium.