The State Journal – West Virginia will save tens of millions of dollars in medical costs if lawmakers increase the taxes on tobacco products, local health care providers say. Read
Members of the policy research group West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy and local health care providers hosted a news conference Thursday, April 28 to urge state lawmakers to increase the tax on cigarettes from 55 cents to $1.55 per pack. They said the increase will both help make up for a $270 million shortfall in the state budget and discourage state residents from smoking.
West Virginia leads the nation in the number of children who smoke and the number of women who smoke during pregnancy. Amy Tolliver, director of the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership, said 28 percent of he approximately 21,000 babies born in the state every year are born to mothers who smoke. About 40 percent of births paid for by Medicaid are to mothers who smoke.
Those in favor of the $1.55 cigarette tax say a significant hike in the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco taxes is needed to convince tobacco users to kick the habit.