Tax Hike in Hawaii Targets Smokeless Products, 'Little Cigars'

Would raise Aloha State excise tax on all tobacco products to 70%

David Ige

HONOLULU --  Hawaii State Senator David Ige (D), chairman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, said on Friday that a proposal to raise the state excise tax on all tobacco products to 70%, or $3.20 each, would close a loophole Hawaii's tobacco tax law that makes smokeless tobacco products and "little cigars" cost-friendlier alternatives to cigarettes, reported the Associated Press.

Senate Bill 2422 would ensure that little cigars, which are often flavored, are taxed at the same rate as the cigarettes they resemble, said Ige.

The bill would also raise the cost of roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco.

The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii gave the measure strong support, pointing out that it would have the most impact on new tobacco users.

The Hawaii state legislature is also debating a bill that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and impose the 70% tobacco tax on the devices

The e-cigarettes bill, SB2233, was passed by the Senate Ways & Means Committee after members voted to delete language imposing the 70% tobacco tax on the devices, said the Hawaii Reporter.

The other main portion of the bill, restricting sales of e-cigarettes to minors, remains intact.

Opponents of the taxing idea said the devices, which deliver vaporized nicotine to users, do not contain tobacco, do not emit hazardous or noxious smoke, and actually help customers break smoking habits.

(See Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage.)