Northampton County, along with all Virginia Counties, are mulling whether or not to add a local cigarette tax.

The 2020 Virginia General Assembly passed legislation this year to allow localities to charge up to 40 cents per pack on cigarette sales.

The tax would be charged County wide, except in towns should they adopt ordinances to keep the funds for themselves.

County Administrator Charlie Kolakowski said while such a tax could generate up to $140,000 per year for the County, the revenue would track smoking rates, downward.

“If this were to be adopted, I’d recommend using the funds for one time capital expenses,” said Kolakowski. “We need to do something for volunteer emergency services. They need equipment. Firetrucks cost $400,000 and that takes a lot of pulled pork(referring to the fundraisers local fire companies hold to raise money).”

Kolakowski also alluded to tourists traveling through our area heading south, who come from areas with substantially higher cigarette taxes.

“We would be capturing tax dollars from northern residents who stop here to buy cigarettes because they are much more expensive where they live,” he added.

However, Supervisors Betsy Mapp and Dave Fauber questioned whether or not this would disproportionately affect Northampton’s poorer residents.

“This tax will hurt people who can least afford a tax increase,” said Fauber.

Mapp agreed.

“A lot of smokers can’t quit,” she said. “If they could have, they would have.”

The Board took no action on the tax at Tuesday night’s meeting.

 

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