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W.Va. legislature approves tax on cigarette tobacco

rolled cigarettes make up
More and more, smokers are taking control over the cost of the habit by rolling their own cigarettes.

Of course, part of the cost of smoking is the tobacco tax, which as a rule is higher than a regular sales tax. The state tax on a pack of cigarettes in West Virginia is 55 cents.

The West Virginia Senate passed a bill Monday to apply the 55 cent tax to “roll your own” cigarettes rolled at retail shops. Currently smokers pay a 7 percent tax on the wholesale value of loose tobacco, which is less than the cigarette tax.

The tax department estimates the change will generate about $500,000 to $750,000 in revenue a year. Individually rolled cigarettes make up about two percent of tobacco sales in West Virginia.

However, locally the majority of smokers buy their cigarettes and tobacco on the Kentucky side of the Tug River, whether it is the supplies to roll their own cigarettes or cartons and packs of cigarettes.

“At least 50 percent of our business is roll your own supplies,” Brnda Whisement, Manager of Fast Lane Tobacco in the Appalachian Plaza, said. “Its not just a cost savings. People say its more natural tobacco, with no additives.”

In Kentucky, the tax rate on packs of 20 cigarettes is 60 cents. Other tobacco products, which includes roll your own tobacco, are taxed at the rate of 15 percent of gross receipts.

The tax on supplies such as the paper tubes used to roll cigarettes and rolling machines is the regular sales tax, 6 percent.

Whisment said the price of tobacco begins at $9.99 for a small pouch to $14.99 to $33 for a one pound pouch. The paper tubes cost $2.49 for a box of 200. Those supplies will make about three cartons or 600 cigarettes.

The one time cost of a cigarette rolling machine ranges from $30 to $44.99.

The cost of a carton of cigarettes varies, from $30 to $45 plus tax. That is for ten packs of 20, or 200 cigarettes.

“It costs less than half,” smoker and Mingo County resident, Jennifer Estepp, said.

Estepp began rolling her own cigarettes when cigarette companies began putting an additive in the tobacco that keeps a cigarette from burning when it is not being smoked as a fire prevention measure. But the cost saving is her main concern.

“I can control the quality of the tobacco,” Estepp said. “Even considering the amount of time I spend rolling them, the cigarettes I roll cost so much less, I don’t think I will ever go back to pre-rolled ones.”

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