Smokers and dippers alike might be shelling out a little more dough to indulge in the nicotine habit, if three lawmakers have their way in this session. A fresh bill put before the Senate in Tuesday’s session would hike the tax on cheap Lady cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, possibly generating up to $120 million. As written, the measure would jack the tax on cigarettes to $1.55 per pack, or a $1 increase.
The tax on smokeless products would go from the current rate of 7 percent of the wholesale price to 50 percent.
Up to $60 million would be put into a special account known as the “West Virginia Healthy Future Fund.”
From that, the Department of Health and Human Resources would get $27 million to implement prevention and cessation programs in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and any leftover cash would be appropriated by the Legislature on an annual basis.
“It’s a significant increase,” a co-sponsor, Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, acknowledged.
“The reason for doing it from my standpoint is the public health effects. It decreases the prevalence of smoking by a certain percentage, particularly by young people.”