CHEYENNE, Wyo.—The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) urges the legislature to pass House Bill 218, sponsored by Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, which would raise the tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack and increase the tax on some other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco and snuff. ACS CAN also urges the legislature to include e-cigarettes in the tax increase to address the e-cigarette epidemic among youth.
Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death and smoking causes nearly 30 percent of all cancer deaths in Wyoming. Each year, 800 Wyoming residents die from their own smoking and an additional 1,800 kids try cigarettes for the first time.
"People are price sensitive, especially kids, so we have to make tobacco products significantly more expensive to motivate people to quit and prevent kids from starting," said Jason Mincer, Wyoming government relations director for ACS CAN. "Regular and significant cigarette tax increases of at least $1 per pack are proven to reduce the number of people who begin smoking and increase the number of people who 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. At current smoking rates, there are 12,000 kids in Wyoming who are alive today that will die prematurely from smoking. A $1 per pack cigarette tax increase would help 2,600 adults quit successfully and prevent 2,100 kids from starting.
The goal of significant cigarette tax increases is less smoking. A price increase of at least $1 per pack ensures that goal is achieved, despite attempts by the tobacco industry to offset price increases and keep prices low. Low cigarette tax increases of less than $1 per pack allow the industry to easily offset any price hikes with coupons and discounts.
"Wyoming’s current cigarette tax of 60 cents per pack is one of the lowest in the entire country, so it’s no wonder that both kids and adults in our state smoke at higher rates," Mincer added. "Also alarming is the fact that nearly 30 percent of Wyoming high school students use e-cigarettes. We encourage the legislature to amend the bill to tax e-cigarettes in the same manner as other tobacco products at a rate of 53.3 percent of the wholesale price."
A higher tobacco tax also has financial benefits. The state spends $258 million annually on health care costs from smoking, including almost $45 million a year in Medicaid costs. A $1 per pack cigarette tax increase is projected to generate about $21 million in new revenue, while saving the state more than $98 million in long-term health care costs as smoking rates decline.
To pledge your support for a $1 cigarette tax increase, visit www.passthebuckwy.com or contact ACS CAN in Wyoming at www.fightcancer.org.
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
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