November 12th, 2007
04:41 PM ET
7 years ago

Senate ends cigarette sales on Capitol Hill

Senate Democrats are banning the sale of cigarettes on their side of Capitol Hill.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democrats in. Cigarettes out. Senate leaders are banning cigarette sales on their side of the Capitol, a decision that ends a little-known discount and is sparking a fire sale at Senate convenience stores.

Last week, Senate Rules Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and the ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, ordered that Senate convenience shops, including one in the Capitol itself, stop selling cigarettes after the first of the year.

Many Senate staffers buy cigarettes from those shops because retail goods inside the Capitol complex are sold with no sales tax. That discount is set to become an outright bargain Tuesday as various Senate shops plan to sell cigarettes at $3 a pack to get rid of inventory. Cigarettes in the District of Columbia commonly sell for more than $4 a pack.

Rules Committee staff director Howard Gantman confirmed the overall policy change to CNN, noting Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Tom Harkin of Iowa had been asking for an internal Senate ban on cigarette sales for years.

- CNN's Lisa Desjardins


Filed under: Senate
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. bigGov, DC

    So instead of just keeping the taxes on just cigaretts around the capital, they're going to just remove them.

    Brilliant!!!

    November 12, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  2. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    I'm glad to see this a bipartisan move so people just don't simply resort to more name calling. The libertarian part of me thinks people should be able to buy what they want, but the responsible and rational part of me realizes how harmful cigarettes are not just for the individual, but for people subjected to second-hand smoke. I smoked for over ten years and finally quit a couple of years ago. I have the feeling that cigarettes might be gone in about twenty years or so.

    November 12, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  3. Ashamed DF is from Cali, Sacramento, Calif.

    Great to know that the tobacco lobby is the one faction that Feinstein is not beholden to. Go get 'em Dianne you piece of... Torture, OK. Illegal wiretapping, that's fine by me. But, darn it all, put out that cigarette!!!

    November 12, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  4. LAME, LA

    LAME HEADS USING PETTY KNOWLEDGE TO NOT FIGHT AGAINST THE REAL PROBLEMS FACING US IN AMERICA! U GUYS ARE A FRIGGEN WASTE OF A HUMAN BRAIN!!!!

    November 12, 2007 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  5. STUPID PEOPLE, LA.

    HUMM WHATS NEXT ,TAXING TOILET TISSUE IN THE WHITE HOUSE? THE 3 SHEET LAW IN AFFECT? NUTS, YOU ALL ARE OUT OF THE REAL WORLD. WE HAVE THE VOTE TO REMOVE YOU GUYS AND GALS -BYE BYE

    November 12, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  6. US taxpayer, MN

    Glad to see the politicians not paying the taxes they inflict on the average US citizen again.

    November 12, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  7. aj huntington, ny

    Isn't this a free country? I don't care if people smoke as long as they respect my wish for them to step outside. Killing the sale of cigarettes isn't going to change anything or help people quit smoking. They'll just waste more time walking over the other side to get the cigarettes.

    November 12, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  8. mindbender

    When is Senate Rules Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-California going to discountinue the healthcare and retirement perks Congress gets for LIFE?

    Cigerette sales?? Pleeeeeeese...

    November 12, 2007 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  9. taxman

    Hey..., why not just remove the taxes on cigarettes for all the American people..., no wiat, I mean, why not just remove all the cigarettes from the American people.., no wait..

    November 12, 2007 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  10. xtina - chicago IL

    Glad to see the Democratic Congress butting out of our lives (no pun intended).

    November 12, 2007 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  11. Nameless,charleston,S.C

    Now we get the answer of all what you have been doing is smoke not doing what American people employed to do for them with their tax dollars!!

    November 12, 2007 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. George,Alt

    I know that is why all our officials we like they way they were from 2003..They have been smoking so much and all what was in their freaken heads is smoke and that is why they voted for the war. I am sure GWB is full of smoke too that is why he has been acting abnormal....

    November 12, 2007 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  13. Steve, Columbus, OH

    Glad to see the politicians not paying the taxes they inflict on the average US citizen again.
    Currently, sales tax is set at the state level, not the Federal level. The senators have nothing to do with this.
    Isn't this a free country? I don't care if people smoke as long as they respect my wish for them to step outside.
    There is nothing here about banning smoking, so how is this relevant?
    I'm glad to see this a bipartisan move so people just don't simply resort to more name calling. The libertarian part of me thinks people should be able to buy what they want, but the responsible and rational part of me realizes how harmful cigarettes are not just for the individual, but for people subjected to second-hand smoke. I smoked for over ten years and finally quit a couple of years ago. I have the feeling that cigarettes might be gone in about twenty years or so.
    You also fail to recognize that there is no relationship between this vote and stopping smoking. Are you under the mistaken impression that senators are going to stop smoking over this?

    November 12, 2007 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  14. Ann ME

    Ah... and this makes them Holy...

    November 12, 2007 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  15. Rick, Kansas City, MO

    This isn't about the sale of cigarettes. This is about the sale of TAX FREE cigarettes.

    I think they should pay taxes on their cigarettes. However, it was easier to ban them from sale in the Capitol Building than it is to make them all start paying taxes on goods in the Capitol building.

    I think they should make all citizens pay the same taxes on the same goods. Why should the Senators be exempt?

    Smoke 'em if ya got em. I don't care if they smoke them indoors. I don't care if they smoke in bars, public buildings, or restaurants. But everyone should pay the same taxes on them.

    November 13, 2007 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  16. Chip Celina OH

    They obviously don't want to fund SCHIP. Cutting the one source of funding they were going to use to pay for it. Oh, yeah, they had the privilege of NOT PAYING TAXES on those smokes.

    Why didn't they continue to sell them there but put that huge tax on them, sort of as a 'pilot program' for SCHIP funding?

    Oregon voted down a tobacco tax to fund SCHIP.

    Washington hypocricy again! Doing it for the staffer's own good. Bet this is gonna piss off a bunch of those folks.

    Have a nice day!

    November 13, 2007 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  17. Glenn Robinson Orlando FL

    What is the total benefit package for a congress ‘person’ or senator?
    Total health care: Ahead of the active duty (and family) personnel to include returning injured personnel.
    Pay and allowances (housing, transportation, travel to include tax breaks for maintaining a residence away from their home state, even though the cost is well above average), Office space in their home state; paid for by taxpayers (I invite you ALL to look into Ms. Clinton's offices in NYC that includes a theater and a staff of a couple of hundred personnel utilizing two floors of a downtown building), extended holiday schedule including summer recess, winter recess, Easter recess, Discount food at the Senate and Congressional dining facilities, free postage including capability to send letters (campaign advertisements) telling their constituents what a great job there are doing for you,
    And they complain about the cost of living! Check the next time they vote a raise for themselves and scale that number to the minimum wage they worked so hard to get for the people.

    November 13, 2007 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  18. Kate, Aurora CO

    So this is what the Senate leaders are working on? We have over 3 million uninsured Americans many of which are children, we have a mortgage crisis where people are losing their homes, we have a new AG who apparently believes in torture....I mean c'mon!! America wake up!!! These people are doing NOTHING to make our lives better. Time to take Washington back. Don't elect Democrat or Republican. Go for a new party. One that will work for us!!!

    November 13, 2007 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  19. Max ,G'ville,SC

    I think they should pay the same taxes on everything just as we do , as far as Kate from CO. saying " the mortgage crisis ,people are losing their homes , ....the housing problem is caused by greedy lenders , and the dummies who signed the contract of that mortgage , many people did not do the math part of the what if the interest rate goes up , many did not read the contract before they sign , both of which used to be taught as good common sense. They trusted a stranger ( realtor ) another no no ..The Greed of the lenders knew the old saying about a sucker born every minute , and they played the hand , many old school grandparents would always say " never trust a bank they only want your money" and they were right , there are several other traps out there we do not hear of such as free checking , and other types of extended credit . Tax Payers did not get you in that mess , and we should not get you out of it . Bailing out stupidity does not fix the stupid. You say the Government is doing nothing to give you a better life , when did it become the job of the federal tax payers to give you a life , I think you need to wake up .

    November 13, 2007 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  20. Naren Roper

    Why 'no sales tax' for our elected officials?. They should be charged sales tax just like any other person in this country.

    November 13, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. Carl, Dallas, TX

    Well now that these cigs are removed, in 2 years they will have to expand the House and Senate because everyone will be too fat to sit in one room.

    They need to move onto processed foods and put warning labels on those... if our government truly cared about us...

    November 13, 2007 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  22. thevoter

    When will Congress pay it's "fair share" of taxes?

    November 13, 2007 11:18 am at 11:18 am |

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