Loudoun supervisors tonight are expected to set county staff to work implementing a new ordinance to levy a tax of up to 40 cents per pack on cigarettes.
The General Assembly this year gave the county the authority to levy taxes on cigarettes, plastic grocery bags and events tickets, and county supervisors are working on taking advantage of all three. In the case of cigarettes, the county is catching up to towns, which already have the authority to levy a tax.
The new law authorizes the county to tax cigarettes at a rate of up to two cents per cigarette, or 40 cents per pack of 20. Supervisors have cited the effects of higher taxes on cigarettes to reduce smoking, and the public health impacts of reducing smoking.
Some convenience store owners have written to the county board with concerns that the tax would hurt their business by chasing customers to neighboring jurisdictions. West Virginia and Maryland both tax cigarettes at a much higher rate, but Fairfax County imposes only a 30-cent tax, and Clarke County taxes them at 20 cents per pack.
Already most of Loudoun’s towns tax cigarette sales, with Hamilton the exception. The local taxes are not permitted to stack—in other words, in towns that already have a cigarette tax, the county tax will not apply.
Supervisors meet tonight, Sept. 8, for their first meeting back from their August recess at 5 p.m.
This article was updated Sept. 9 at 12:45 p.m.