As lawmakers return after their furlough, one issue they will take up is a cigarette tax increase. The House and Senate now have to reconcile their versions of a cigarette tax hike. In the Senate version, it goes from the current 7-cents a pack tax to 57-cents a pack. Representative Chip Limehouse of Charleston told WCIV he supports the 50 cents a pack increase.
“They’re going to buy them anyway. Once you start smoking cigarettes it’s hard to quit, and if our higher tax help somebody quit, I wouldn’t have a problem with that,” says Limehouse.
Limehouse says the money from the tax hike would go toward health care costs in the state, but Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell says he doesn’t like the fact that two non-health related programs would take about $5 million of the generated revenue.
“The proponents of this tax had scooped off the top $2.75 million a year to go up for infrastructure on I-95, and $3.5 million a year is going directly to the Department of Agriculture for an advertising campaign,” says McConnell.
And for that reason, McConnell says he did not vote for the increase.