NH Senate panel holds hearing on tobacco tax hike

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The Senate's tax writing committee is holding a hearing on a House proposal to raise New Hampshire's tobacco tax.

The Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday morning on a bill to raise the tax 20 cents per pack. The House has since voted to raise the tax another dime to $1.98 per pack.

The tax is $1.68 now but will rise automatically to $1.78 on Aug. 1 if lawmakers take no action. Gov. Maggie Hassan proposed moving up the scheduled increase and hiking the tax another 20 cents to raise money for spending in her budget, and the House agreed to do that.

Critics argue the proposed increase would make New Hampshire less competitive. But supporters say New Hampshire's tax would still be lower than surrounding states.