Tobacco products could be a lot more expensive in Hawaii if some state legislators get their way.
The state Senate Health Committee endorsed legislation that would increase the excise tax on tobacco to 70 percent, or $3.20 per product. The lawmakers hope the levy increase will reduce smoking and tobacco use in the state, according to the Associated Press.
Senate Health Chairman Josh Green said raising the state’s tobacco tax leads to reductions in tobacco use, particularly among children and young adults.
Gradual tax increases have led to dramatically lower smoking rates, but smokeless tobacco use hasn’t significantly declined. The Health Committee recommendation notes that tobacco-related illnesses and deaths cost the state $640 million a year, the news outlet reported.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee is expected to decide today whether to send the proposal to the full Senate.
There is also a movement within the Hawaii state legislature to tax and regulate electronic cigarettes the same as all other tobacco products. Specifically, HB2557 and its companion bill SB2819 place e-cigarettes with other tobacco products as items prohibited to be sold to a minor and amend the definition of “tobacco products” for the purposes of taxation, as CSNews Online previously reported.