NH House committee votes to lower tobacco tax

A bill that would lower New Hampshire’s state tax on cigarettes and other tobacco items has passed through the NH House Ways and Means Committee in a 14-5 vote, split along party lines. The measure will now head to the House floor, where a large Republican majority and recently made campaign trail promises to cut taxes make passage likely.

As NH Journal previously reported, the bill would lower the cigarette tax by 10 cents per pack, making NH prices significantly lower than those of any other state in the region. The legislation, sponsored by House Finance Committee Chairman Ken Weyler and several other House Republicans, has received support from anti-tax and pro-business groups including the National Taxpayers Union, National Association of Convenience Stores, and New Hampshire Grocer’s Association.

Proponents of the bill argue that it will stimulate New Hampshire’s economy, while taking an unfair tax burden off of the poor at the same time. A recent study commissioned by the NH Grocer’s Association bears out that argument, projecting that the tax cut would actually lead to an additional $13 million in tax revenue, as it would both stimulate in-state sales, and attract buyers from higher-taxed neighboring states. Supporters also claim that higher tobacco taxes do not necessarily generate more revenue, as they often send smokers searching for alternate purchasing venues either across state lines or on the internet, and that these taxes disproportionally impact low-income citizens, who are demographically more likely to be smokers.

A date has not yet been set for the floor vote.

Author: James McKay

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