Public Smoking Ban Could Impact Tobacco Tax

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By Brittany Bivins

Volunteer firefighter departments in Pike County depend on the tobacco tax as a major source of funding. But now that public smoking is illegal, county officials say that might have to change.

Every year, Pike County volunteer firefighters get about $90,000 from the tobacco tax. That money is split between all nine volunteer fire departments. But even now, making ends meet is a challenge.

The tobacco tax funding declines a little more every year.

"Obviously part of that is everybody's efforts to reduce smoking and the impact of the smoking ordinance on that, we don't know yet," said Harry Sanders, Pike County Adminstrator.

The ordinance makes it illegal to smoke in public buildings or businesses. City Council leaders say they hope it encourages people to quit smoking altogether. Pike County Administrator Harry Sanders says that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it means the county will have to find other funding for firefighters.

Right now, there are no plans to add a tax or fine Pike County residents. A similar proposal last year never made it on the ballot.
 

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