Advocates Make Renewed Call for $1 Tobacco Tax Increase

Charleston Gazette-Mail - Proponents of a $1 increase in West Virginia's tobacco tax said Thursday that the struggling proposal is a "no-brainer" for the state with some of the highest rates of smoking among both teens and adults and an existing tax lower than that of 45 other states. Read

On Thursday, a coalition representing members of the state's health care and education systems, faith-based groups, public health agencies and citizens renewed the call for a $1 tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products sold in West Virginia.

The state's adult smoking rate is the highest in the nation — 26.7 percent of West Virginians smoke, according to 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data. Its adult smoking rate has not declined significantly in nearly two decades, despite a marked decline in surrounding states and across the nation.

Between 1995 and 2010, the daily smoking rates of adults in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee dropped to below 20 percent of the population and below 15 percent of the population in Virginia and Pennsylvania. West Virginia's rate never fell below 20 percent during that period, and it even increased between 2005 and 2010 to nearly the level recorded in 1995.

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