Members of the Virginia General Assembly are about to consider a proposal that would raise the tax on cigarettes. The new revenue would go toward reducing the car tax.
Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) introduced similar legislation last year, although that effort tried to use the $500 million in new revenue toward Medicaid. Legislators in Richmond viewed the proposal as a tax increase and killed it. So Hope is now trying a different tactic -- raising the cigarette tax from 30 cents a pack to the national average of $1.45 a pack, and sending the revenue to local governments so they can reduce the car tax.
"It doesn't take a whole lot of courage to do this," says Hope. "But if we keep hiding our heads in the sand and do nothing about this really public health threat, then we are cowardly."
Virginia's cigarette tax currently ranks second to last among the states and the District. Only Missouri has a lower cigarette tax.