1. Increase the cigarette excise tax by at least $1.00 per pack;
2. Create parity between taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products; and
3. Fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended level.
In the 2016 legislative session, a bill to increase the state cigarette tax rate from $0.30 per pack to $1.50 per pack, the cigarette excise tax on roll-your-own tobacco from 10 percent of the manufacturer's sales price to 50 percent, and the tax rate on certain other tobacco products by the same percentage was introduced in the state House of Representatives. Ten percent of revenue on the three taxes would have been used by the Virginia Department of Health for tobacco cessation and prevention, and the remainder would have been deposited in the Virginia Health Care Fund. Unfortunately, the bill was left in the Finance Committee, and Virginia's cigarette tax remained the second lowest in the country.
Bills to authorize any county to impose a tax on cigarettes were also introduced in the House and state Senate. Again, both were left in their respective Finance Committees and died.
The American Lung Association in Virginia led efforts to urge the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee to give a favorable review for Medicaid coverage of benefits consistent with CDC recommendations and Virginia law, including FDA-approved pharmacotherapy products,
Several bills dealing with electronic cigarettes were also introduced in 2016, including a bill in the House that would have established a state tax on electronic cigarettes, and a bill in the Senate that would have expanded the definition of "smoking" in the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act to include electronic cigarettes. The House bill was ultimately stricken from the docket by the Finance Committee, and Senate bill was passed by and died in the Local Government Committee.
In 2017, priorities for the American Lung Association in Virginia will include working to ensure prevention and cessation programs are funded, an increase in the cigarette excise tax, and parity between taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.