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Of the nine states composing the northeastern region of the U.S. (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), two states have so far this year passed (House and Senate) an increase in cigarette excise tax legislation -- Connecticut and New York. For Connecticut, the increase had not yet been approved into action as of press time, according to the Tobacco Merchants Association’s Legislative Tracking Report.
As for the other states in the region, Maine, Vermont and Pennsylvania have introduced increased tax legislation; the other four -- New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey -- have not.
In 2009, 14 states and the District of Columbia increased their cigarette taxes, including the northeastern states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Vermont. The national average state cigarette tax went from $1.18 per pack in 2008 to $1.34 per pack in 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State cigarette taxes currently range from a high of $4.35 per pack in New York to a low of 17 cents per pack in Missouri.
In other Northeastern tobacco news:
- Connecticut: The state senate is considering a bill that would impose an excise tax of 15 cents per 0.0325 ounces, or $4.62 per ounce, on roll-your-own (RYO) and pipe tobacco starting July 1. After passing the state senate in April, the house is considering a measure that would expand the statewide workplace smoking ban that took effect in 2003 to all businesses by eliminating a provision that exempted workplaces that employed up to five people. The bill would even apply to a self-employed person, with employees or not.
- Massachusetts: The State Department of Public Health proposed a bill that would require retailers to display graphic warnings about the health effects of smoking, as well as posters with information about cessation resources, within two fee of their cigarette displays and cash registers by the end of 2010, with violations resulting in fines of $100-$300. The initiative is modeled after a campaign in New York City, where similar warnings began appearing in almost 12,000 stores in December 2009. If it passes, Massachusetts would become the first state in the country to require point-of-sale cigarette warnings; the State Public Health Council is scheduled to vote on the measure in August.
- New York: New York State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D) introduced a bill on May 25, that would create a statewide system for recycling cigarette butts, funded by a deposit of one cent per butt or 20 cents per pack. It would apply to cigarettes, cigars or any other tobacco product with a filter or butt.
- Pennsylvania: The City Council of Philadelphia passed a $3.85 billion fiscal 2011 budget on May 20, which includes a new 36 cents per-ounce tax on chewing and pipe tobacco and 3.6 cents per-piece tax on individual cigars. Meanwhile at the state level, a bill has been introduced that would levy a 60 percent wholesale tax on cigars and smokeless tobacco products. If approved, the bill would end Pennsylvania’s status as the only state in the nation without a tax on smokeless tobacco products and one of only two without a tax on cigars (Florida is the other).
- Rhode Island: The state senate is considering a bill that would raise the legal buying age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. But even one of the senators that recommended the bill acknowledges it is unlikely to pass this year due to powerful lobbying groups that oppose such measures that might further hurt the State’s struggling economy.