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Senate finance committee gets started on Tomblin’s tobacco tax increase bill

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Senate finance committee gets started on Tomblin’s tobacco tax increase bill
By MetroNews Staff

The Senate Finance Committee began debate Tuesday on legislation that will raise the prices of cigarettes, other tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

The bill (HB 420) is Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s proposal to raise additional tax money to help balance the state’s budgets for this fiscal year and next.

The bill raises the tax on a pack of cigarettes from the current 55 cents to $1 per pack, increases the wholesale tobacco tax from 7 percent to 12 percent and imposes a 7.5 cents per milliliter tax on the liquid used in vapor cigarettes.

The bill calls for the new taxes to go into effect April 1, which would generate an additional estimated $19 million this fiscal year and $78 million annually in subsequent years.

Lawmakers are split over the tobacco tax increase. Some more conservative members object to any tax increases, while others have argued that the per pack increase should be at least $1 instead of 45 cents to further discourage people from smoking.

The committee rejected an amendment that would have changed the tax on snuff from twelve percent on the wholesale price to 36 cents per tin.

Committee members recessed until Wednesday when they will resume discussions on the bill.

House Democrats introduced their own tobacco tax increase bill Tuesday. It calls for a $1.00 increase per pack with a 10-cent increase a year for the next five years for a total of $1.50 per pack.