A bill that sought to increase New Mexico's cigar tax by a whopping 51 percent was defeated by the state's House Taxation and Revenue Committee Thursday afternoon. The bill, SB 231, would have increased the tax rate on Other Tobacco Products—which includes premium cigars—from 25 to 76 percent.
SB 231 was introduced earlier this year by Democrat Howie Morales, a state senator representing New Mexico's 28th District. It passed in the Senate in early February by a vote of 24 to 16, receiving partisan support from nine additional state senators.
In an op-ed penned by Sen. Morales on nmpoliticalreport.com, he argued that the higher tax would boost revenue that could be used for underfunded programs, like state education. He also noted that the tax could dissuade youths from smoking and persuade adult smokers to quit.
The article, however, offered no reasoning for increasing the tax on cigars.
The House Taxation and Revenue Committee that voted against the bill is a bipartisan committee consisting of seven Republicans and nine Democrats.