AUSTIN (May 7, 2013)--The Texas House Tuesday narrowly approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would cut taxes on chewing tobacco by more than 30 percent, but would raise the price of some lesser brands of cigarettes.
The bill, which passed 74-66 Tuesday, would mandate that cigarette brands not included in a 1998 settlement among big tobacco companies charge an extra 55 cent per pack, just as the major competitors.
Taxes on chewing tobacco, meanwhile, would fall from $1.22 to 80 cents.
State Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, said the bill is about fairness, and 48 states have adopted similar measures.
But the normally routine final approval instead sparked heavy debate from conservatives who argued the state is taxing tobacco companies it never sued.
Currently, though, firms that weren't around for the settlement can charge less, and have increased market share as a result.