Tax Could Discourage Tobacco Use
Written by Andrew-Rossi on February 15, 2018
A bill being introduced in the Wyoming Legislature would increase the tax on tobacco products by a dollar.
Cancer advocates and volunteers from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Heart Association gathered in Cheyenne on Tuesday to urge their state lawmakers to pass the tax increase that they say will save lives, reduce health care costs, and raise new revenue. That’s according to the Grass Roots Coordinator for ACS CAN, Dawn Scott of Cody.
Each year, 800 Wyoming residents die from tobacco use, and an additional 300 kids in the state start smoking. Scott says that more deaths are caused each year in Wyoming from tobacco use than by HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.
She adds that because people are sensitive to price increases, particularly young people, raising the price of all tobacco products by at least a dollar is the most effective way to both help people quit, and prevent youth from starting. According to numbers produced by ACS CAN, in Wyoming alone, the $1 tobacco tax increase would help 2,800 current tobacco users quit successfully and prevent 2,400 kids from starting. Ultimately, 1,400 lives would be saved from a premature smoking-related death.
Kristen Waters with the American Heart Association says that Wyoming’s current cigarette tax of 60 cents per pack is one of the lowest in the entire country. In addition to discouraging residents from smoking, she says the tobacco tax increase would generate about $22 million in new annual revenue, while saving the state roughly $107 million in long-term health care costs.