(06/09/2010)
Sixty-three percent of West Virginia interviewed voters favor a $1 increase on a pack of cigarettes, according to the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free West Virginia and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The group says the increase would help plug a hole in the state budget and also reduce youth smoking.

They say a $1 hike would prevent 19,000 West Virginia youth from smoking.

State officials are projecting a $150 to $160 million shortfall in fiscal year 2011.

A dollar-per-pack tax increase would generate $117 million in annual revenue, despite the decline in tobacco consumption it would bring, according to the group.

West Virginia last raised its cigarette tax in 2003, when the tax jumped from 17 cents to the current 55 cents.

West Virginia ranks 44th in the nation in cigarette taxes.

The Charleston Gazette says when it comes to plugging state budget holes, most West Virginians prefer hiking taxes on alcohol and tobacco over other options.

But the alcohol lobby has been quite successful in holding the line on beer and liquor taxes in the legislature.


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