Delegate proposes raising cigarette tax
RICHMOND, Va. -- A delegate's proposal to raise Virginia's cigarette tax from 2.5 cents per pack to 50 cents per pack was greeted with modest, but bipartisan applause Thursday in the House of Delegates.
Del. Jerrauld Jones, D-Norfolk, said Virginia's cigarette tax has not been increased since 1967 and lags more than 42 cents behind the national average.
At 2.5 cents per pack, it is the lowest in the nation.
Jones said he might put forward an amendment to raise the tax to 50 cents when the House votes on its version of the budget Feb. 21.
"I suggest this not only as a way to help with our budget shortfall, but principally as a way to improve the general public health--especially that of our children," Jones said.
Jones said a 50-cent state tax could lower the youth smoking rate by more than 10 percent and increase state revenues by about $323 million a year.
Democrats and Republicans both applauded Jones' suggestion. Several said the proposal is worth considering, but none suggested it could win approval this year.