While some state legislators in Hawaii are seeking to raise the state’s tax on premium cigars, others are looking to lower it drastically by way of a 50-cent cap on the state’s existing rate of 50 percent of the wholesale price.
A trio of bills have been introduced into the legislature seeking said cap, the first of which is H.B. 769, introduced by House Speaker Joseph Souki, D-Wailuku. It seeks to implement the cap effective July 1.
The bill was scheduled for a hearing in the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee on Wednesday and is currently listed as being scheduled for decision making by the committee on Feb. 6.
The other bill, H.B. 1332—which has a companion bill in the state senate, S.B. 871—seeks to do the same thing, though with slightly different wording as it specifies that the cap would apply to a large cigar of any length.
Both of the changes would have a drastic impact on the cost of a cigar at the register; for instance, a cigar with an MSRP of $9.50 would drop from its current pre-sales tax price of $14.25 to a much more modest $10.50 by halfwheel estimates.
HB 1332 was introduced by Rep. Nadine Nakamura, D-Kapa’a, and Rep. Dee Morikawa, D-Waimea, while SB 871 was introduced by Sen. Ronald Kouchi, D-Kaua‘i.
The house bill has been referred to the Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce and the Committee on Finance, while the senate version has been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
Meanwhile, H.B. 247 is scheduled for decision making by the House Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce on Feb. 6 as well, while the senate version sits with the Committee on Ways and Means.