Tobacco Tax

The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free West Virginia supports a significant increase in West Virginia’s tobacco excise tax. Increasing tobacco excise taxes is the single most effective strategy in reducing tobacco use, particularly among children. It is a key component in a comprehensive tobacco use prevention program.

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West Virginia has some of the highest tobacco use rates in the Nation. The prevalence of:

  • Current cigarette smoking among WV adults (age 18 and older) is 25.6%.
  • Smokeless tobacco use among WV adults is 8.5%.
  • Smoking among high school students is 22.4% and among middle school students is 8.3%.
  • West Virginia has the highest rate of smoking during pregnancy in the country at 29.3%.

Cigarette smoking causes:

  • An average of 3,770 annual deaths of WV adults age 35 from diseases related to cigarette smoking.
  • About 19% of all deaths (or nearly 1 in 5 deaths) of WV adults age 35 and older are caused by cigarette smoking.
  • Smoking in WV is the cause of 67% of the cancer deaths, 16% of heart disease deaths, and 70% of lung disease deaths among WV adults.
Source: WV Divsion of Tobacco Control – Tobacco is Killing (and Costing) Us Rev. 2012

The economic toll tobacco takes on human lives in West Virginia is enormous. The state spends over $900 million a year on the direct health care costs of smoking, according to the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health.

It is well documented that increasing the price of tobacco products is the single most effective strategy in reducing tobacco use, especially among youth. One way to increase the price is through excise taxes. The current West Virginia excise tax on cigarettes is 55 cents a pack. This tax was increased last over a decade ago remains well below the national average of $1.54 a pack (as of June 20, 2014). With the current tax on cigarettes West Virginia is ranked 44th among 50 states and the District of Columbia (as of June 2014).

Source: Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

Source: Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free West Virginia supports a significant increase of excise tax on cigarettes and an equivalent increase in the excise tax on the wholesale price of all other tobacco products.

The excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products will provide not only one of the best mechanisms for reducing youth tobacco use and smoking during pregancy, along with a host of other benefits, but also has the potential to bring in substantial revenue to the State of West Virginia.