MA ups cigarette tax; Rhode Island gets the benefit - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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MA ups cigarette tax; Rhode Island gets the benefit

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by ABC6 News Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

mcurtis@abc6.com

Three months ago, Massachusetts boosted its sales tax on cigarettes by $1 dollar per back.

That drove many smokers across the border into Rhode Island, where the cigarette tax is now cheaper.

Ocean State merchants are reporting a bonanza.

"Our business has grown from doing $400 to $600 per week, to $1000 or $1,200. It's a fact. Number's don't lie," said State Rep. Jan Malik (D) Warren, who owns a liquor store.

And many liquor store owners say business is up, after Rhode Island dumped the wine and booze tax on December 1st.

"When you use sales tax reform to boost the economy, it works. Shoppers will go where they can get a great deal," said Mike Stenhouse, CEO from the Rhode Island Center fro Freedom and Prosperity.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "Clearly tax cutting advocates are not advocating smoking or cigarette sales. But what they do say this points out is that if you cut taxes in one place, it can boost revenue in another."

Right now a commission in Rhode Island is studying ideas about cutting more sales taxes in the Ocean State.

"We are talking about putting money back in the pockets of every single Rhode Island family. And we're looking at create 10's of thousands of jobs so that those who want to work, have increased opportunities," said Mike Stenhouse.

The General Assembly may consider more sales tax reforms, when it convenes in January.

In the first three-months for the new Massachusetts cigarette tax, Rhode Island has collected nearly $3 million more in cigarette tax revenue, over the same time period last year.

 

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