Is tobacco the answer to some of West Virginia‘s money problems?
That’s a question lawmakers will face in the upcoming legislative session, when they will likely consider boosting the cigarette tax.
Smokers are not waiting to exhale. In fact, some are fuming mad that west Virginia may add another $1 tax on each pack of cigarettes:
“‘Cause smokers, they pay taxes on the cigarettes already. Now they’re having to pay an extra dollar on cigarettes, that’s not fair,” said Joseph Newberry, smoker.
The extra cigarette tax is not law yet, but will likely be considered by lawmakers when they convene here in January.
“Our budget, the state budget is $250 million underwater this year, because of the attacks on the coal industry and fossil fuels,” said State Senator Mitch Carmichael.
To make up for the loss in that tax revenue, increases in tobacco taxes, or cuts in service will be studied.
“Well, all of those things are on the table. We are looking at all revenue sources,” added Senator Carmichael.
Some who back raising the cigarette tax, want some of that money to go to promote health and fitness programs around the state.
Right now, the tax on a pack of cigarettes in West Virginia is 55 cents, the fourth lowest in the nation.
There was a proposal to increase taxes by $1 per pack of cigarettes a year ago – it failed – but it’s likely to be back in 2016.