At the most recent Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting, outcry against the proposed .25 a pack cigarette tax increase that could go into effect July 1, 2021. Numerous local business owners and residents voiced their concern over the impact this would have on them and out of state travelers in regards to purchasing not only tobacco products, but also affecting restaurants, gas stations, and other Lee County businesses.
According to the owner of Riggs Oil Company and Black Diamond Markets who has 17 stores in our region, and four located in Lee County, the customer base includes many coming from both Kentucky and Tennessee to purchase. Among those out of state tobacco purchases, a good portion of them also patronize other local business while their in our community. These traveling consumers also hail from Scott and Wise counties, who come to Lee for lower priced cigarettes but benefit the community with their visits to other local stores while in the vicinity.
It was suggested that while the community understood the Board is looking for additional funds, perhaps they could look elsewhere and leave the oft taxed minority (less than 15%) alone. Worst case scenario, it was suggested that perhaps a .50 per carton tax would be more bearable that a $2.50 tax as suggested.
Cuz’s Tobacco owner expressed his appreciation for an opportunity to discuss the matter and expressed his concern for the impact on his customers. Warner went on to add that a tax on cartons of cigarettes rather than per pack would be a better way of generating funds. He went on to add that consumers from nearby Kentucky and Tennessee spend more in the western part of Lee County and perhaps they could be expected to contribute more to Lee County’s tax income.
Teresa Caldwell of Cuz’s Tobacco broke down the tax numbers to point out that with the proposed tax increase, it would increase the amount to more than $10. Caldwell went on to suggest that the county needed more employment opportunities available that would result in additional revenue for the county.
It has also been suggested that they leave the tobacco consumers alone, and perhaps go after alcohol consumers for a change of pace.
Overall there were many comments in regards to just where the current revenue goes now.