Markups On Cigarettes, Wine, Milk Decried As Hidden Tax Hike

Posted at 8:15 PM, Jun 03, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Under a new state law, Tennessee retailers will have to charge smokers at least 15 percent more than the wholesale cost. The surcharge is theirs to keep.

That increase follows last year's law requiring wine to be sold at least 20 percent above cost and another longstanding law requiring a 10 percent markup on milk.

Justin Owen, the head of the conservative Beacon Center, calls those markups a "hidden tax increase" -- except that the proceeds are funneled to retailers.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam signed the cigarette and wine markup bills, though his administration didn't take an active role in their passage.

Haslam said in a recent interview that he hasn't put "a whole lot of philosophical thought" into whether the state should set minimum prices on retail goods.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)