Lawmakers Consider Whether the Public Should Inhale …. or Not

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Hawaii has among the highest cigarette taxes in the nation at $3.20 per pack, but lawmakers are proposing additional tax increases.

A Senate committee on Tuesday advanced a bill to impose an excise tax equal to 85 per cent of the wholesale price of any tobacco product sold after January of next year.


Another bill that heavily taxes electronic smoking devices could also increase taxes on those products by as much as 85 percent.

Opponents said at a hearing that the vapor devices help people to stop smoking cigarettes, and that high taxes will likely put them out of business.

Bills to increase taxes on both cigarettes and e-cigarettes are advancing in the Senate.

To Inhale or Not?

While most lawmakers might not like tobacco products, they seem to approve of marijuana.

A bill that permits board certified pain specialist physicians to prescribe medical marijuana beginning January 2, 2015 will be heard in the Senate on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.

On Feb. 13, the Senate will hear a bill to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

Senators also want to have both your phone and food labeled.

A bill to require labeling of foods that have been genetically engineered passed a Senate committee with amendments yesterday.

Another bill passed a Senate committee that mandates all cellular telephones, including refurbished and remanufactured cellular telephones, bear a label that warns consumers of the potential dangers of electromagnetic radiation emitted by cellular phones.

All of these bills would have to pass the full Senate before moving to the House for consideration.

Hawaii Already Among the Highest Overall Taxed States

While most Hawaii lawmakers have no problem taxing residents and visitors -Hawaii is among the overall highest taxed state -lawmakers also have approved a number of tax credits over the years.

Solar and wind energy system owners, movie and television producers, the poor, those hiring workers in certain zones, and those who buy durable goods to use in a business, all have tax credits, according to the Tax Foundation of Hawaii.

This year, lawmakers are considering additional tax credits for hotel renovation and reconstruction, affordable workplace housing, low income renters, and others.

However the Tax Foundation of Hawaii is opposing any additional tax credits. Tom Yamachika, interim president, said tax credits act like a “blank check drawn on the state treasury” and could lead to tax increases for the general public.