Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 20, 2013

Good luck with tobacco tax plan

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— According to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph article of March 22, West Virginia smokers may start paying $1 more per pack. Good luck with that. Legislators need to take a good look at the U.S. map, and realize that any percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing.

Even as a high school student I bought my smokes in Virginia (Deskins was just as close as Krogers), and as a Princeton resident made a monthly run to Virginia for smokes and gas. Virginia (30 cents a pack tax) has the biggest chunk of the state’s border.

Then there’s Kentucky (60 cents a pack), Ohio ($1.25 a pack), Pennsylvania ($1.60 a pack), and Maryland ($2 a pack). West Virginia’s 55 cent a pack raised to $1.55 a pack, what do you expect will be the result? Loss of taxes paid by Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland purchasers, and loss of taxes from state residents who will buy in Kentucky and Ohio. D.C. has a 2.50 a pack tax, but it is possible for a D.C. resident to walk to Virginia and carry home a month’s supply. So the tax hardly can be a big revenue stream. If our legislators want to strike a blow for the anti-tobacco folks, go for it. But if they want to increase revenue, they would be better off to decrease the tax to 40 cents a pack. That would reduce the incentive for people like me bordering Virginia, and extend the invitation to Kentuckians.

Joe C. Hall