AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas House has narrowly approved and sent to the Senate a bill cutting taxes on chewing tobacco by more than 30 percent but raising the price of some smaller brands of cigarettes.
Passed Tuesday 74-66, it mandates that cigarette brands not included in a 1998 settlement among big tobacco companies charge an extra 55 cent per pack, like major competitors. Taxes on chewing tobacco, meanwhile, would fall from $1.22 to 80 cents.
Republican Rep. John Otto 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. They claim 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.
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