Bill will raise tax on tobacco products

Smokers and dippers so can be fired a little more dough to his nicotine habit, if three legislators have their way in this session.

A fresh bill to the Senate meeting on Tuesday, a trip tax on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco may generate up to $ 120 million.

As already mentioned, this measure will jack the tax on cigarettes by $ 1.55 per pack, or $ 1 increase.

The tax on smokeless would be from the current rate of 7 percent of the wholesale price by 50 percent.

Up to $ 60 million will be put into a special account, known as “The West Virginia Foundation for Healthy Future.”

From The Department of Health and Human Resources will receive $ 27 million for the implementation of prevention and cessation programs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and any remaining cash will be assigned to the Legislature on an annual basis.

“This is a significant growth,” co-author, Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha acknowledged.

“The reason for this is from my point of view, the consequences for human health. This reduces the prevalence of smoking by a certain percentage, especially young people.”

Not only that Foster argues, but the higher the tax will ultimately save the state money in future health care costs.

“Despite how people quit smoking, it will reduce a little bit of money you get from the taxes,” said the surgeon, Charleston.

Foster said he wanted the proceeds of the tax, if approved, dedicated to public health.

“In the public health of a purist, you should not worry about that much as long as the tax on the ground that it would raise prices and keep some people from the beginning to make some people stop and possibly reduce the number of people who smoke in Overall, because the costs, “he said.

There are some however, who see it as a tax on the poor, and Foster believes that this is unfortunate.

“Many of these people can stop,” he said.

“My hope is to provide services that will be one source of money for the consecration of the termination of services to people who want to stop, it’s hard to stop, and really can not afford to continue to smoke at the entrance, where they can stay, and so much more money. ”

Another physician, Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, who heads the Health and Human Resources and Finance Committee, Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, are the other sponsors.

Prezioso prefer to see some of the proposed tax increase to go into the problem through Medicaid.

“I would put it in Medicaid,” he said. “That’s where I want to go.”

Prezioso said Legislature is faced with a difficult task in the next year to find $ 200 million for Medicaid.

“We cover all accounts, this year,” said the chairman of the financing.

“We have money in a trust fund of the budget after this year. There are no other options. You are either going to raise other taxes or other charges, or you’re going to reduce services to Medicaid. This is a difficult decision.”

Prezioso said he prefers to find the tax “can we live with today, put it in place, and to devote these funds Medicaid».

“This is where it is needed,” he said.

“This will be our biggest challenge next year.”

Foster admitted the increase in tobacco taxes – any such campaign, for that matter – is not an easy task in an election year.

“Nobody likes to raise taxes,” he said.

“But if you poll people, regardless of political affiliation or ideology, more than 60 percent of the population supports a tax increase on cigarettes. Seems to good policy, and is a good policy.”


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