The price for a carton of cigarettes in Hawaii would hit 3 digits under proposal

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii has some of the highest cigarette taxes in the nation.

And they’re about to go up.

Under a proposal before legislators, the cigarette tax would jump from 16 cents per stick to 21 cents.

The tax hike would raise the price of a packet of cigarettes to about $10 (from $8.99).

And a carton would set a smoker back $100.

Supporters of the increase point out that Hawaii’s cigarette tax hasn’t gone up since 2011, and note that tax increases can help push smokers to quit ― and deter would-be smokers from ever starting.

“Nationwide, there has been a direct correlation between the increase in the price of cigarettes and decreased consumption,” said Dr. Linda Rosen, chief executive officer at the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, in testimony.

According to the Sales Tax Handbook, Hawaii has already has the third-highest average retail price for a pack of cigarettes. New York is the priciest, at $10.45 a pack. Massachusetts, at $9.08, is in the no. 2 spot.

Under the measure at the state Legislature, the increased revenue generated from the tax would go to cancer research and other public health programs.

Opponents of the bill include retail merchants and, of course, smokers.

To read all the testimony for the bill, click here.

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