CHEYENNE, Wyo.--Unfortunately, a lifesaving tobacco tax bill died in the House Revenue Committee today on a 5-4 vote. House Bill 218, sponsored by Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Laramie County), would have raised the tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack and increased the tax some other tobacco products.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) supported the $1 cigarette tax increase oproven to reduce tobacco use, save lives and reduce health care costs. ACS CAN was also working with lawmakers to amend the bill to include a tax on e-cigarettes given the alarming rates of use among teens.
"Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, and Wyoming struggles with high smoking rates among adults and teens. Teen use of e-cigarettes is also way above average in the state with nearly 30 percent of high schoolers using these products, yet we have one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the country," said Jason Mincer, Wyoming government relations director for ACS CAN. "Until our state passes a significant cigarette tax increase of at least $1 per pack with an equivalent price increase on other tobacco products, Wyoming residents will continue to bear the burden of low tobacco prices and the high taxpayer cost of treating tobacco-related disease."
Research shows that regular and significant increases in the tax on tobacco products is one of the most effective ways to help people quit while preventing young people from becoming addicted. In fact, a $1 cigarette tax increase was projected to lower youth smoking rates nearly 11 percent and keep 2,100 kids from becoming adult smokers. Additionally, 2,600 adults would have quit.
Every state that’s raised its cigarette tax by at least $1 per pack has seen a sharp decrease in the number of cigarette packs sold, leading to fewer kids starting to smoke and less preventable disease and death caused by smoking. It was projected that a $1 cigarette tax increase would have saved Wyoming roughly $98 million in long-term health care costs associated with smoking.
"While ACS CAN is disappointed in today’s outcome, we will continue working with the Legislature to pass a strong tobacco tax increase that saves lives and reduces the devastating financial and physical toll of tobacco use on our great state," Mincer added.
Wyoming’s current cigarette tax is 60 cents per pack, ranking it 44th in the nation. The national average is $1.79 per pack of cigarettes. The state has not raised its cigarette tax since 2003.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org