Governor Tomblin Proposes 45 Cent Tax Increase and Slashes Prevention Budget
The West Virginia Legislature began the 2016 Session on Wednesday, January 13th and opened with a call by Governor Tomblin to increase the states excise tax on cigarettes 45 cents per pack and the tax on other tobacco products by 7.5%.
A tax increase this small would have negligible point impact on public health.
The Coalition for a Tobacco Free West Virginia and its partner organizations has been pushing for at least a $1.00 per pack increase on cigarettes. The state’s current cigarette tax is 55-cents a pack, nearly $1.00 below the national average. The governor’s plan would add only add 45-cents.
The governor has expressed concern about losing the business of out-of-state buyers of cigarettes in West Virginia if the tax is raised too much.
Several Legislators have expressed interest in raising the tobacco tax by at least $1 and legislation to do so has been introduced.
The governor’s proposed budget also slashes spending on tobacco prevention efforts in West Virginia from $4.2 million to $2.4 million, a nearly 40 percent reduction.
The combination of a small tax increase and eliminate funding for the programs put into place to help current users quit would assure West Virginia’s tobacco use rate will not decline.