Radford City votes to increase cigarette, tobacco tax to 40 cents

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 11:20 PM EDT
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - The City of Radford is increasing its tax on cigarettes and tobacco products by 25 cents. This comes after council voted unanimously to do so Monday night.

Radford is one of the first hometowns to increase its rate after the General Assembly gave counties the option to collect the tax. For more than a decade, Radford had a 15-cent tax. This increase will take it to 40 cents.

“We did not realize how long it had been at a 15-cent rate and how much lower that was than the surrounding localities,” Mayor David Horton said. “We have to look to make sure we’re doing the most appropriate thing that allows the revenue.”

After talking with nearby hometowns, the city wanted to even out the playing field. Blacksburg and Christiansburg sit at 30 and 40 cents respectively. Jurisdictions don’t have that many ways to generate revenue in Virginia because it’s a Dillon Rule state. Horton said this extra money could bring thousands in revenue to be used toward public health and safety and to help to further the goals of the city.

“We feel like there is general support for us to move forward with this and utilize the revenue to maybe help abate some of the health risks associated with smoking and other tobacco products,” Horton said. “We will continue to look at this. If we see a significant decline among our local retailers and they feel like they’re completely disadvantaged because other communities didn’t decide to move forward with this, we can make an adjustment to that.”

Only two organizations wrote letters to council in opposition, but no one has spoken out at any of the past two meetings. Pulaski County is looking to hold a public hearing next month to make its rate 40 cents, while other hometowns are looking at their current rates and figuring out what is best to do.

Radford’s new tax rate goes into effect in 30 days.

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