1. Increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 with an equivalent increase for all other tobacco products; and
2. Maintain or increase funding for Montana's tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
There was no 2016 legislative session in Montana. A state budget for 2015 and 2016 was passed during the 2015 legislative session, and therefore funding for tobacco prevention programs in Montana remained virtually the same as last year at about $6.4 million per year. This was about a $1 million increase each year over the previous state budget for 2013 and 2014.
Reducing youth use and initiation to tobacco is a priority for the American Lung Association in Montana; and increasing tobacco taxes is a proven strategy to reduce youth use. Legislation will be introduced during the 2017 legislative session to increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack. A tax increase of 50 cents per pack is included in the Governor's budget that was submitted to the state legislature; advocates will work to garner support to increase this proposal to ensure a public health benefit from the tax increase.
Montana legislators are facing a budget deficit in 2017 and will be looking for cuts to balance the state budget. Montana's tobacco prevention and control program is a likely target to receive budget cuts. The American Lung Association in Montana will work with advocates and stakeholders to maintain funding levels for the state's successful prevention and control program.