When counties in Virginia got authorized to impose a local cigarette tax in 2020, Richmond County opted against the said cigarette tax collection.
Looking at the potential collection from the cigarette tax, Richmond County is rethinking its decision on not adding tax cigarettes.
Richmond County has decided not to implement a cigarette tax because they believe implementing a cigarette tax would place a greater financial burden on consumers rather than generate significant revenue for the County.
Warsaw had a cigarette tax in place, with most stores selling cigarettes within its limits. Initially, projections estimated that the county would only make around $9,600 with a cigarette tax rate of 40 cents per pack at the three remaining stores.
However, Richmond County now has four stores where the cigarette tax applies, and they have observed other localities earning tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars from cigarette taxes. For example, Lancaster collected over $91,000 from five stores since August 2021, while Essex earned over $60,000 from five stores starting in January 2022.
The towns of Warsaw and Colonial Beach have gathered in around $166,000 and $149,000, respectively, in revenue since August 2021. Warsaw still has nine stores left to tax, while Colonial Beach has seven. Both towns have a cigarette tax rate of 40 cents per pack.
Supervisor Richard Thomas, who owns a store selling cigarettes, has personal knowledge of cigarette consumers. He was previously opposed to the tax and continues to hold that stance.
During a discussion about reconsidering the cigarette tax, Thomas expressed concern about imposing an additional financial burden on people who already struggle financially. He acknowledged that 40 cents might not seem like much, but for those with a cigarette addiction, one pack a day is often insufficient.
Chairman Lee Sanders emphasized that if the cigarette tax helps even one person quit smoking; it would be more beneficial than collecting the taxes itself. The other Supervisors seem interested in gathering more information about the cigarette tax and plan to hold a public hearing before implementing it.