CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Tobacco users may be asked to pay more to fund health programs in the Mountain State.  A proposal to add to West Virginia’s tobacco tax is again being taken up at the State House.

Del. Don Perdue (D-Wayne, 19) has introduced a bill that would raise the state tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1, taking it to $1.55 total or equal to the national average.  On all other tobacco products, an excise tax equal to 50 percent of the wholesale price would be imposed.

Perdue said the state needs the estimated more than $90 million such a tax increase could generate every year.

“I think the interest is very high and getting higher,” he said of the potential for passage of the bill which has been proposed several times in recent years.  “Whether there’s enough there (for passage) this year, in 2014, that remains to be seen.”

As proposed, for ten years, the first $90 million generated from the increase would be designated for the Bureau for Medical Services with $6 million going into tobacco control annually and $1 million per year for five years going to the West Virginia University School of Public Health.

Any additional money beyond that would be allocated as follows: 30 percent for oral health improvement programming, 30 percent for substance abuse prevention and treatment programming, 24 percent for in-home elderly care services and 16 percent for early childhood development programming.

“We just saw it exacerbated by this water crisis,” said Perdue on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”  “We need the money to do the things that have to be done for our population.”

The House Health and Human Resources Committee, which Perdue leads, was scheduled to take up HB 4191 during a Wednesday afternoon meeting at the State Capitol.

Perdue has also proposed a separate bill to raise the state tax on alcohol.

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  • Linda Sing

    Tell me, You want us to work for a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, Pay $2.00 per pack taxes on cigarettes, Order us to buy health insurance or be fined. What happens when you cannot soak the Alcohol, tobacco, or firearm groups for any more tax dollars for your "Other " so called budget needs. What happens when everyone no longer works and there are NO Tax Dollars, or , no one else left to tax. We are tired of paying for a few things we enjoy outrageous taxes or prices and not having any increases in our personal incomes. Maybe , you all should look to the future .

  • Kita

    I think if your going keep raising the taxes on cigarettes.Then the money should be put in a fund for smokers or for people who are around smoke. For there health care. You also need to show proof where this tax money is going.It sound to me like you are wasting the money and you need more to waste.

  • wvfarmer

    It is unfair to tax one thing only - or to a specific habit is the tax is going to benefit everyone - If the tax is to be used by everyone - then everyone should be taxed - put it back on the food
    not fast food
    not ciggs
    not drinkers

  • Concerned

    I agree with those who have previously commented to the effect of the increase of tobacco taxes continue to be the focus of discussion...why not alcohol and liquor?!?! Unfortunately, I am a smoker, but I can do that legally over the age of 18 and driving down the road without killing someone. After surviving a collision with a drunk driver, I feel I have earned the right to say increase the alcohol & liquor taxes. No, it may not deter those who still wish to drink, but maybe it will slow them down. I would rather encounter a smoking driver than an intoxicated driver out on the highways. By the way, I hope our representatives NEVER legalize marijuana because that will be another enormous group of people we will have to dodge driving down the road.

  • Kathy Nelson

    Well, I am a smoker, and I agree it is nasty, but is no worse than other habits.
    If the taxes were used for good it wouldn't be so bad to have to pay extra.... take a long look at what they will be used for drug addict programs.... our tax dollars are most generally never used for what they say that will be used for....
    As for alcohol.... they aren't going to raise the taxes on it to much because think about how many of our elected officials have gotten caught drinking and DRIVING! Would you rather he be smoking a cig or drunk behind the wheel.....
    Its all about money money money!!!
    They will appoint someone to over see the funds and pay THEM 6 figures to allocate the funds....come on people... use a little common sense!!!

    • Linda Sing

      I agree with the comments. It is all political. They want to tax smokers and spend it on what they want. STUPID THINGS. Mainly their salaries or some other Stupid reason.
      It is time all smokers and the tobacco industry said "Enough".

  • Polly the Pundit

    There are two (2) sides to this argument. One is that tobacco users allegedly generate more in terms of healthcare costs. The other is that this is a "sin tax" and unfairly punishes a segment of the population for engaging in a legal activity. The arguments to legalize marijuana are inane and ignore all of the negatives that drug use generates for society in terms of increased healthcare costs, etc.

    Bottom line is that the State needs to raise revenue. Many states have raised their tobacco taxes and generated revenue while cutting their tobacco use rates thus lowering overall healthcare costs. Cigarettes in New York can cost as much as $9.00 or more a pack. With the highest per capita tobacco use rate in the nation, something needs to be done to help fund the Obamacare mandates.

    I know that this would be unpopular but, if the Stater is going to go down the, "sin tax" road, why not raise the tax on sugar-loaded sodas and energy drinks to $0.25 a bottle/can; raise the alcohol tax to 15%; and eliminate the food tax exemption on certain other unhealthy foods. This would target several of West Virginia's notorious health issues and send a message that we want our population to become healthy.

  • ThatGuyOverThere

    After 60+ years of chewing tobacco my grandpa developed stomach cancer, which spread to his liver, his kidneys, and finally his bones....the doctors said his cancer was directly linked to him tobacco use over his entire life. He died two years after they found the cancer...

    Tax the all mighty crap out of tobacco, if you are stupid enough to use it I guess you are stupid enough to pay higher taxes for it. How ignorant can a person be? Every type of tobacco has the cancer warning on it...But you idiots still continue to use it...How can you be so stupid?

  • hilljack

    Not only would the marijuana fund the health care, look at how many jobs it could create.

  • wvman75

    Smokers vote. So do their friends and families.

  • cutty77

    Smoking is a Nasty and UnHealthy habit,just because its legal makes no difference. We all have to pay for people that smoke,should that be legal? I wish they would Tax Fast Food too. We are The Obese State,and we pay for that too.

    • Plopaganda

      Fast food does get taxed. Haven't you noticed that you don't get charged at the grocery store but you do at McDonald's?

    • Kathy Nelson

      Your username says it all!
      Are you a drinker? Because you didn't say anything nasty about alcohol? Do you consume your weight in it? Lol..don't be ashamed we all have a bad habit or two...just saying!!

  • jay ziehm

    hey you idiot (Purdue) why don't you introduce a bill legalizing the green weed you'll probably generate $900 million in revenue a year. think about it you jerk instead of picking on a small percentage of ones who smoke. if the state needs tax revenue pick out a product that the daily consumer uses like gasoline (2 cents) then you can rip off all the tourists and other people who pass through our state, rather than a select few

    • Linda Sing

      Yes, and what about the effects of smoking pot. Is it better for your lungs because it will bring in BIG TAX revenue, just like Tobacco does. How about just taxing everything a small amount and quit laying it on Tobacco, Alcohol, and Firearms. Yes, I am a smoker of Tobacco. They get any higher priced, than it is unfair to the poor. They will not be able to afford them. They cannot afford anything now, is the State and Government going to take it all??? Most of us have no jobs now because they outsourced everything we did so Big Business could make more profits. What is next?

  • Plopaganda

    Yay! More punishment for people doing a legal activity that others find icky. I've never smoked a cigarette in my life but the demonizing of smokers is unreal these days.

    • Mountain Man

      Couldn't have said it better. I don't drink and don't condemn anyone who does, but the costs of drinking alcohol impacts everyone. DUI arrests and court time, DUI accident related deaths and injuries, illnesses, rehab, etc. the list is long and undistinguished. But I don't see any taxes increasing for the spirits! Also, more tax money to pay for welfare programs. Raise the tax on tobacco and alcohol. Not just one. And seriously consider the legalization of marijuana just like Colorado and Washington. You have nothing more to lose in this arena and everything to gain.

      • floddrancher

        Actually West Virginia alcohol taxes are only slightly lower than the national average, but taxes on tobacco are near the bottom. This bill would bring cigarette taxes up to near the average, and taxes on smokeless tobacco a little higher but still quite low compared to other states. I have no comment on this proposal, and am just putting in a couple of facts.