At the end of last week Senate Democrats in West Virginia presented Senate Bill 531 that raises taxes on the sale of cigarettes. The leader of Democrats is Jeff Kessler.
According to Kessler, data shows that across the USA the highest smoking rate is reported in West Virginia, where there are 44% smokers. It is much higher than the national average. Over past years smoking rates in the state were not reduced and this makes the state the only in the country which reported no improvements in this field.
Specialists claim that the better way to reduce smoking rates, especially among youth, is to increase tobacco tax which would result in price increase.
The authorities plan to raise tax on cigarettes gradually. Their final aim is to have a tax of $1 per package.
Kessler said that today the state of West Virginia experiences a budget dificit and increase of tobacco tax would bring necessary money to cover this dificit. Also it would help to relieve from the necessity to borrow money from the Rainy Day Fund. From all sides the tax hike would be beneficial.
The sponsors of the Bill are Senators Ron Stollings, Corey Palumbo, John Unger and Mike Romano. The Bill was sent to Senate Committee on Finance for an approval. Kessler signed it as a co-sponsor to it. The Senate Bill 534 imposes an increase of tobacco tax by a total $1 per package. In case it would be finally approved, it would come into effect on July 1, 2015.