NH House bill would lower tax on tobacco products
The New Hampshire House is considering legislation that would significantly reduce the state tax on cigarettes and tobacco products, currently among the highest in the country. HB 156 would cut cigarette taxes by 10 cents per pack, and the tax on other tobacco products by 17 percent, bringing the tax levels closer to the national average.
National and statewide anti-tax and small business groups are calling on the Ways and Means Committee to push the legislation through to a floor vote, and on state legislators to vote it into law. The National Taxpayers Union, who sent a representative to testify at the bill’s public hearing, highlighted the fact that cigarette smokers tend to be in the lower income brackets, so high taxes on these products often hurt those who need tax relief the most in a struggling economy. The National Association of Convenience Stores, which represents hundreds of NH small businesses, also supports the measure, as New Hampshire’s tobacco taxes have been demonstrated to have a negative effect on tobacco sales by small convenience store owners. Sales of tobacco products make up a significant percentage of their consumer activity.
Similar measures have been introduced in past years and either been voted down on the floor or killed in committee, but hopes are high among supporters for passage this year, as the State House is newly under Republican control, and pledges to cut taxes and spending were ubiquitous on the campaign trail. The bill has also attracted a sizable group of co-sponsors, several of whom sit on Ways and Means. Co-sponsors include Republican Reps. Weyler, Sapareto, R. Ober, L. Ober, and Osgood. The bill is due out of Committee by March 10th.