Don’t hold your breath tax idea will catch on

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 6, 2002

The American Association of Retired Persons vowed Tuesday to mobilize its more than 900,000 members in Virginia to support a tobacco tax increase and convince lawmakers to boost healthcare programs with the new-found money.

Virginia’s excise tax is the lowest in the nation at 2.5 cents. The AARP wants it upped to 60 cents a pack, which would generate an estimated $367 million a year that the organization wants the state to spend on long nursing home stays, expensive prescription drugs and other health care issues important to seniors and all Virginians.

With the anti-tax sentiment in Virginia, there’s little chance of any program being maintained, much less expanded.

Email newsletter signup

As Virginia’s fiscal crisis deepens, it’s an idea that makes sense and one the General Assembly should enact. It offers the best of both worlds – increasing revenues while at the same time discouraging smoking, perhaps the biggest health risk facing citizens of the state.

But don’t count on it. Legislators don’t have stomach for a tax increase of any sort, particularly in the wake of the devastating defeats of the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads tax-raising referendums in November.

With that being the case, state residents would be well-advised to look for more state layoffs, more college tuition increases and longer lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and some place to keep your aging parents other than nursing homes.