Tobacco would cost more in West Virginia if a bill introduced this week at the State Capitol is approved.

Boone County Senator Ron Stollings, the Chairman of the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, says the proposal would take the existing state tax on a pack of cigarettes from 55 cents to $1.55.

For other tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, the current 7% state tax on the wholesale price on each item would go up to 50% with the legislation.

“We’re just raising this up to the average tobacco tax in America and, hopefully, we’ll be using this for good things,” Senator Stollings said on Thursday’s MetroNews Talkline.

The current state tax on a pack of cigarettes is 30 cents in Virginia, 60 cents in Kentucky, $1.25 in Ohio, $1.60 in Pennsylvania and $2.00 in Maryland.

SB 593 was introduced in the Senate on Thursday with just more than three weeks to go until the end of the 2013 Regular Legislative Session.

Senator Stollings, the bill’s lead sponsor, says it makes sense to implement the proposed increases now for both economic and health reasons.

“The budget is in trouble, for one thing,” he said.  “We know that if we raise the tobacco tax that we can cut down on youth smoking and also avoid premature smoking cause deaths, a lot of public health issues.”

The bill has the support of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Roman Prezioso.  He says the state is in a fiscal “crisis” right now and an additional estimated $100 million every year, from the tobacco tax increases, would help.

At the end of February, state tax collections were $35 million below estimates but, as of this week, Senator Prezioso says that has grown to more than $130 million.

“You don’t have a crystal ball, but a hiring freeze is not going to take care of this deficit that we’re looking at right now,” Senator Prezioso said.  Earlier this week, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin called for an immediate freeze on state government hiring.

The 2013 Regular Legislative Session closes on Saturday, April 13th.

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Comments

  • Jamie

    You people are idiots!!! Your thinking is exactly whats wrong with America today, and that is "well it don't affect me so go ahead" Why should we be punished for the governments inability to control the budget!!! Plus to say it's for health reason is just the typical NANNY COMMUNIST STATE B.S.

    • C.Hoffman

      Jamie: No need to call folks names. They prove it on their own without it being pointed out. I do find the balance of your analysis hit's the target dead center and agree wholeheartedly.

  • wvman75

    Homosexuals engage in risky behaviors that increase medical costs. Tax their lifestyle.

    • Harpers Ferry

      WVman, that may be the dumbest comment I've ever read. Congratulations!

  • waterman

    Looks like we have our own home grown versions of wannabe Nanny Bloombergs. These gentlemen must have tired of their elected positions. Consider the following-probably at least 25% of voters are smokers, another 15% or so will resent the select targeting of a legal product, correctly sensing they may be next in the crosshairs. That sure seems like a lot of votes going up in smoke. (Pun intended)

    The taxes in VA and KY will cause anyone within reasonable driving distance to go there if this new tax should pass. A quick look at a map will show how much border WV shares with these states. The forecasted windfall in new revenue will never happen. But then again, that's probably not as important as saving us from ourselves.

  • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

    You will never convince me that alcohol consumption contributes to less health consequences, less abuse issues within the family unit and less deaths as a result of DUI's. Raising taxes on all the vices, alcohol, fast food and tobacco would have been far more convincing and accepted by the public. No problem, although we are genuinely trying to quit smoking, we and and many others will continue to drive 5 minutes across the VA state line and purchase them. More smoke and mirrors from the hidden agenda legislature who have no real clue on solving problems. What about obesity and health care costs? WV is the fattest state in the nation!!

    • thornton

      "You will never convince me that alcohol consumption contributes to less health consequences, less abuse issues within the family unit and less deaths as a result of DUI's".

      Huh?

      I also don't believe that alcohol consumption contributes to fewer health issues.
      I also don't believe that alcohol consumption results in less family abuse.
      And I also do not believe that alcohol consumption equals fewer deaths or DUIs.

      I do believe that alcohol consumption may affect Internet postings.

      • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

        Thornton, it was satirical. I believe it causes all those things. Our elected officials as idiots!

  • Randy

    Increased tax's does not stop the young from smoking, education does. I have never seen one penny of savings in health care cost's due to all this taxing. My cost's go up every year regardless.

    These are just excuse's to tax a particular group of people despite it being unconstitutional to target a specific group for taxation rather than doing the hard thing and fixing what is actually causing the loss of revenues. It's lazy legislating. Lord forbid we should actually cut spending on the excess and frivolous and attack waste instead.

    It's the "the more you make the more you spend" thing. There will never be an end to our problems without strong responsible and intelligent leadership no matter how much to raise tax's or where.

  • Brian

    Just another tax to steal from the public....

  • Brian

    By my math, that's a 181% increase on cig tax and 614% increase on other tobacco products! Take that, smokers!!!!!!!! Haaaa another reason to be glad I don't smoke anymore.

    There is a reason why sin taxes are popular. These vices have a strong negative impact on people who don't partake, and that is not fair. Second-hand smoke may be deadly to bystanders, and is an aggravation at the least for people who have chosen not to partake. I favor the tax and the bans on smoking in public places. I love it actually.

    The smokers are right about taxing alcohol too, even though that is one I would be paying the higher taxes on. However, alcohol does create a public menace. A lot of people get belligerent and attack people when they are drinking. Drunks also seem to like to drive, and that sometimes has devastating consequences.

    Sin taxes hope to reduce the consumption of these socially harmful drugs and also compensate the general public for the negative consequences on society.

    It's a good thing to do.

    • Will Bill Martinez

      Too much gub'mint intervention, says I. If a private establishment wants to attract a clientele that lights up, and wants to risk losing the business of nonsmokers than that should be their decision, not that of the local county health department bureaucrats.

      West Virginia is well on its way to becoming the Nanny State of Appalachia, and no longer worthy of its motto, "Montani Semper Liberi".

    • BW Adkins

      Congrats on quitting one of the toughest addictions! And no doubt your health is much improved...

  • Geno

    Hey guy's settle down, these taxes are for the children, don't you recall cig. tax and the lottery was going to fix all the problems for the children, now tell me, do we have any problems with the children????

  • Jon

    When I look around, I don't see many smokers anymore so tax away. What I do see is a lot of obeseity. If you are concerned about public health, politicians probably need to start there and tax Big Macs and Biscuits.

    • cutty77

      You bring up a Great Point,and i'm serious.Tax all Fast Food joints.Tax more for drive thru too,drive thru people are The Biggest and Most lazy.They set in There Cars so they can Smoke more.2 for 1 deal

      • Shawn

        I'm with you. Make a Combo Meal at McDonalds around 10 dollars. It will stop people from buying it!

        • cutty77

          No they would still buy it.But Jon has brought up a Great Point.Obeseity in WV is out of control.I see kids that are under 10 years old,that weigh close to 200 lbs Those Kids have not Shot.Tax Fast Food brother.WV should be The Lead State in This.We just about lead the Nation in Obeseity.

          • Shawn

            I'm still agreeing with you. Something needs done. I think offering a healthier menu is key to fast food. But is there really such thing as healthy? I'm not sure what needs done but fast food is a killer.

  • MrJ

    Makes it harder for the southern part of the state to decide between eatin' or 'backie!.

  • John S

    Sure, go ahead, raise 'em all. Looking at this chart (http://taxfoundation.org/article/state-sales-gasoline-cigarette-and-alcohol-tax-rates-state-2000-2010) we're low compared to most and there's room to meet modern standards. Oddly, there are a lot of "red" states who tax more than WV. They must know what they're doing. So, sure, let's match 'em.

  • thornton

    Sin taxes are popular.
    They give folks the opportunity to be self-righteous and to score the feeling of having the attention placed on others than themselves.

    Makes no never-mind to me re this tobacco tax...raise away.
    Same with alcohol.
    Worse comes to worse, I can avoid my small bit of pipe tobacco or the occassional tip & drip of good Irish whiskey.

  • C.Hoffman

    The "budget is in trouble" "we're in fiscal crisis" so let's raise taxes on tobacco. The tax collections reported as down 35 million just three weeks ago is now more than 130 million. The tobacco tax will raise 100 million in taxes for the year. So let's do the math. Collections down 95 million in 3 weeks so for the year based on the presented info collections will be down 1.6 + billion. 1.6 billion - 100 milion = 1.5 billion shortfall that will exist even with the increase. No mention of spending cuts, ending duplicative programs & programs in general, limiting government. This is absolute insanity. Good Lord WV wake up to this madness.

  • cutty77

    I'm 100% behind Shawn.We all pay more for Health coverage because of smokers. To be Honest they should raise it Higher.

  • Shawn

    And if you're going to hike up tobacco then they need to increase alcohol too!

    • GregG

      I agree, lets put a $1.55 tax on a bottle of beer. And while we are placing an unfair, discriminating tax on a LEGAL product based on the grounds of "health", lets place a 40% tax on fast food, candy, icecream, cookies etc....

      • Shawn

        Do you see something wrong with taxing beer?

        • GregG

          NO, I'm all for it. If they can tax my cigarettes under the guise of "heath concerns" then I say tax the hell out of beer and alcohol. If they are going to tax ONE legal product due to "health reasons" I want everything thats "unhealthy" tax too.

        • Will Bill Martinez

          Why not tax whole milk, too? Force West Virginians make better health choices and switch to 2% or skim. I'm lactose intolerant, so TAX AWAY!