A proposal to raise the tax on premium cigars and other non-cigarette tobacco products from seven percent to twelve percent of the wholesale price has been approved by the West Virginia Senate, clearing the chamber by a 26-6 vote earlier this week.

SB 420 would also raise the tax on cigarettes from 55 cents to $1.55 per pack. The increases were part of a proposal submitted by State Sen. Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, and also levies a new tax of 7.5 cents per milliliter on the liquid used in electronic cigarettes. Projections suggest that the increase could bring in $115 million annually, an amount needed as the state faces a $384 million budget deficit this year and could reach over $450 million next year.

The bill now heads to the State House of Representatives for its consideration. The increase would go into effect on April 1 should it be enacted.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.