Committee OKs tobacco tax increase

HONOLULU — The House Health &Human Services committee on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 2843 SD1 with amendments to increase the annual license fee for tobacco wholesalers and dealers from $2.50 per year to $500 per year.

The measure also raises the tax on cigarettes and little cigars from 16 cents per cigarette or little cigar to 22.5 cents each, or $3.20 per pack to $4.50 per pack.

“It’s not about the state coffers getting more money,” said HHS Chair John M. Mizuno (Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights, Lower Kalihi).

He said tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States and continues to be a problem in Hawaii. It causes 1,400 deaths per year among adults and an estimated 21,000 children in Hawaii currently under the age of 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking, Mizuno said.

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