Tobacco Tax Advances in Senate after Emotional Debate

Beckley Register-Herald - After an angst-filled debate that featured the Senate Health Committee chair's declaration that a hike in tobacco taxes would not curb smoking and a second plea for a $1 increase from Democrats, the upper chamber moved forward with an unchanged bill Senate leaders say won't make it through the House of Delegates. Read

SB 1005 includes $78 million in revenue increases, mostly from a 45-cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax. The bill would raise the tax rate on smokeless tobacco to 12 percent and, after being amended by Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, in committee, tax e-cigarette fluids at the same rate.

Sen. Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, chair of the Senate Health Committee, introduced an amendment to eliminate the tax increases on smokeless tobacco and e-cigarette fluids. Ferns said the tax increase would not deter anyone from using the products, which contain harmful nicotine.

"The health benefits of increasing taxes is minimal," Ferns said.

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