New Hampshire Legislator’s Bill Would Remove Cigar Tax Exemption

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For years, cigar smokers in New Hampshire have been envied by those in other states for one main reason: they are not subject to paying additional taxes on their cigars. But a New Hampshire state representative wants to bring an end to that, which could mean a massive increase in the cost of cigars in the state if it passes.

Recently, Rep. Timothy Horrigan (D-06) introduced H.B. 438, which would remove the exemption for premium cigars and subject them to the state’s other tobacco products (OTP) tax rate of 65.03 percent of the wholesale price.

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In the case of a cigar with an MSRP of $9.50, that cigar currently costs $9.50 at the register, as the state also does not have a sales tax. Were the exemption to be removed, that same cigar would jump to $15.68, by halfwheel estimates.

According to the bill, based on Department of Revenue Administration data submitted by tobacco whoesalers, in FY 2018 there were reported sales of $796,798 of premium cigars, though it acknowledges that number isn’t completely accurate as if a seller only sells premium cigars and no other tobacco products, no report of sales is made to the department. However, based on those numbers, if premium cigars had been taxed, the state would have added at least $518,158 in revenue. Additionally, the department states it could absorb the costs to administer this bill within its operating budget.

Cigar Rights of America issued a statement on Thursday morning calling the bill an “anti-small business action that will negatively affect premium cigar retailers and consumers in New Hampshire.” The organization has also launched a petition drive for those wishing to oppose the bill.

The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, where it awaits its first hearing.

New Hampshire’s General Assembly will also be considering a statewide increase to the tobacco purchasing age this year, as Sen. David Waters has introduced a bill seeking to make the minimum age to purchase tobacco products 21-years-old, which six other states have already enacted.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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