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Additional taxes on cigarettes discussed

The Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors (BOS) briefly discussed the possibility of a county-wide cigarette tax during its July meeting but took no vote on the issue.

“At this point, we are a long way from making any decision,” Supervisor Mike Hankins said.

The discussion on the tax came following a Commonwealth Regional Council meeting in which members were given a presentation on a possible Regional Tobacco Tax Board.

“I am not in favor of any cigarette tax,” Supervisor Robert Zava said during the BOS meeting.

According to Hankins, a study for Lunenburg was done using 30 cents per pack of cigarettes for the tax.

The estimated gross revenue for the county would be about $120,000.

“The money would go into the county’s general fund and be used for things like teacher salaries, building maintenance, and any other thing the county needs to spend money on,” Hankins said. “The county could earmark the money for just one thing if it chose to do so, but nothing like that has been talked about. At this point, we are just looking at information.” Hankins said partnering with other counties to form a Regional Tobacco Tax Board to keep enforcement and collection costs down could also be an option.

Due to a change in state law, starting July 1, counties can assess a tax on tobacco of up to 40 cents per pack.

If a town already has a tobacco tax, their respective county could apply the tax in the town unless the town blocks it. For instance, Victoria could block a separate tax by Lunenburg County or stack it on top of their own.

A tax board would be staffed, and that staff would have the authority to implement the program and enforce assessment/collection of the tax. The amount that each participating locality would contribute to a regional tax board would be prorated based on how many cigarettes each locality sells.

There is currently a regional tobacco tax board in Northern Virginia, which has been in place since 1970 and has 19 participating localities.

On Monday, July 26, Hankins said that the BOS would like more information before any decision is made on imposing a cigarette tax.