Tobacco tax hike goes into effect in W.Va.

Published: Jul. 1, 2016 at 6:01 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Cigarettes are getting more expensive in West Virginia. The state's tobacco tax goes from 65 cents to $1.20 per pack, starting Friday.

The increase is projected to bring in about $100 million a year.

"It came out of nowhere," said Bill Gleason, manager of La Fontaines Tobacco & Wine. "We haven't even had a letter from the state -- who to pay, how much to pay, when to pay."

The hike has some West Virginians in our area planning to hop in their car and head across the river for the better prices.

"It's a no-brainer for me to buy it in another state," West Virginia resident Mark Ash said.

The cigarette tax raise puts West Virginia at $1.20 a pack compared to Kentucky's 60 cents a pack, but it is still less than Ohio's $1.60 tax.

"They might have to get one or two packs in West Virginia compared to getting four or five cartons," Discount Tobacco worker Heather Castle said. "But I think they'll end up coming over here because you're saving six dollars a carton to come to Kentucky."

Back in June when the budget was signed, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said this version of the budget addresses the state's finances "in a responsible manner during difficult times."

While the cigarette tax got a 65 cent hike, e-cigarette and other tobacco product taxes will also be on the rise.

"Couple people that smoke cigarettes, you're gonna save six dollars, if not more, a carton. Well, I'll go ahead down there and save a little bit more on my tobacco and it'll add up," Castle said. "You're going to save $50, driving 30 miles, or a $100 depending on how much you get, I'd say they're all going to do it."

Some local stores in West Virginia, like La Fontaines, will be spending this holiday weekend taking inventory to account for the tax.