$1 Cigarette Tax Rollback Up for Discussion in R.I.

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$1 Cigarette Tax Rollback Up for Discussion in R.I.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- State lawmakers are reviewing a bill that would lower Rhode Island's cigarette tax by $1 per pack. The state currently imposes the third highest levy in the country, at $3.46 per pack.

The arguments on both sides of the issues are similar to those in New Hampshire, another New England state that is debating reversing the tide on cigarette taxes. According to Turnto10.com, backers of the bill argue that the high tax is costing the state business, while those against the measure contend the high tax encourages residents to lead healthier lives.

"I look at the revenue side," said Rep. Bob Phillips (D-Woonsocket) who proposed the decrease. "I've talked to convenience stores and some grocery store owners, and they said all we did when we raised our sales tax on cigarettes is just pass it over to Massachusetts and Connecticut. This is a way to get that revenue back into the State of Rhode Island."

One c-store owner near the Massachusetts agrees with the rollback. "That would be awesome because this store used to do a lot of cigarette sales," Brijesh Patel told the news outlet. "My regular customers used to come in from Boston. I'd get all those customers back."

However, health advocates argue the move would be a step backward. "It is really hard to fathom why anybody would think reducing the tobacco tax in Rhode Island. Rhode Island is a case study for the success of tobacco taxes," said Dan McGoldrick, of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, adding that in the past 10 years smoking has decreased 47 percent among children in the state and 37 percent among adults.