Chewing tobacco cost would rise with new tax

Published: Friday, Feb. 8 2008 12:34 a.m. MST

Chewing tobacco could cost more under a bill passed by a House committee Thursday.

HB356, sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Lockhart, R-Provo, would change the tax from being based on wholesale price to being based on weight. Right now, the snuff is taxed at 35 percent of wholesale price, or about $1.05 on a $5.99 can.

Lockhart's proposed plan would charge 75 cents per ounce of moist snuff. Thus, the cost of the same 1.2-ounce can of chewing tobacco would increase 90 cents, to $6.89.

Lockhart said her bill isn't designed to increase the tax revenue to Utah, but to bring uniformity to the tax structure. The upfront tax on the retail price could also deter youth from getting their 19-year-old friends to buy the smokeless tobacco for them.

Last year, the state collected about $5 million in taxes on chewing tobacco, or "moist snuff," as the bill calls it. Lockhart's bill passed unanimously out of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

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