Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Wyoming. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Wyoming calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Support and implement a $1.00 increase in the tobacco tax;
- Increase/maintain funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs; and
- Adopt a statewide, comprehensive smokefree law.
Budget and revenue shortfalls once again forced the Wyoming legislature to make difficult decisions. Despite the best efforts of public health advocates, the legislature cut a total of $2.1 million in tobacco prevention and cessation dollars over the fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2019 biennium. This reduction eliminated the Quitline-Quitnet, an online and telephone resource to assist people to eliminate their tobacco addiction.
An increase in the tobacco tax was proposed during the 2017 legislative session. Unfortunately, the increase was only 30 cents, which would not be large enough to yield the reduction in youth and adult smoking that the American Lung Association in Wyoming supports. The legislation gained some traction, but was ultimately not passed.
In December 2017, the Joint Revenue committee in the Wyoming legislature voted 8-7 to introduce a $1.00 increase in the state's tobacco tax, with an equal tax applied to all other tobacco products during the 2018 legislative session. This increase would be expected to generate approximately $22 million in new revenue. The American Lung Association in Wyoming will support this proposal and work to see that a portion of the new revenue is dedicated to support tobacco prevention and cessation programs.