Altria, Cville Businesses Against Proposed Cigarette Tax Hike - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Altria, Cville Businesses Against Proposed Cigarette Tax Hike

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Some small business owners are worried a proposed cigarette tax increase in Charlottesville could make them lose customers. Now, a tobacco company is getting involved.

If the proposal passes, smokers would have to pay an extra 20 cents for every pack of cigarettes they buy in the city of Charlottesville – but not in Albemarle County.

Now, Richmond-based tobacco company Altria is handing out fliers on behalf of Philip Morris USA asking people in Charlottesville to join the fight against the tax hike. A spokesperson for the company says he is concerned the tax hike would have unintended consequences for local businesses. He predicts customers may go elsewhere to buy their cigarettes.

Brown's Market on Avon Street had the fliers on display Wednesday. The market is located right on the city/county line. Store owner Mike Brown says he's worried the proposed tax increase will drive people away and he will lose business.

"We don't just lose cigarette sales. People come in they buy bread, they buy sodas, they buy beer, so you lose the cigarette sales as well as other revenue as well, so there's no telling what the impact will be,” said Brown.

The city says if the tax increase passes it will bring in more than $250,000 in revenue.

Some council members are also saying they hope the tax increase will encourage people not to smoke.

City Council has a budget work session Thursday. They expect to know by Friday afternoon whether the tax increase will be included in the budget.

Reported by Sean Cudahy

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