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    Regional News: Low-Cig-Tax Louisiana Mulls New Local Tax Authority

    If passed, new law would create patchwork of local taxes all over the state.

    By Hank Behar

    NEW YORK -- Legislation was recently introduced in the Louisiana state legislature (House Bill 1280) to give local municipalities the right to raise cigarette taxes up to 50 cents per pack. If enacted, the total cigarette tax in a local municipality could be as high as $1.86 per pack, including the federal excise levy.

    Currently, the Bayou State sits nicely in 48th place with one of the lowest tax rates on cigarettes in the country: 36 cents per pack. Only Virginia (30 cents), Missouri (17 cents) and South Carolina (7 cents) are lower. (Rhode Island stands at Number 1, with a whopping state tax of $3.46.)

    "This legislation would be devastating if passed," declared Natalie Isaacks, executive director of the Louisiana Oil Marketers Association/Louisiana Convenience Stores Council (LOMCA). "It would result in a patchwork of taxes all over state, with shoppers scurrying to neighborhoods with the lowest rates, hurting their hometown retailers and eroding loyalty to local businesses. We're committed to fighting this bill and will oppose it all the way down the line."

    LOMCA hopes to have as much success fighting this cigarette tax bill as it did a recent bill to prevent the sale of energy drinks, except for coffee. LOMCA fought vigorously and the bill was voted down unanimously.

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