While a proposal to raise the tobacco tax in Wyoming failed earlier this year, state legislators are once again turning the idea to close a budget shortfall and reduce usage.
Earlier this week, the members of the Joint Labor, Health & Social Services Interim Committee recommended an increase in tobacco tax, though a specific amount was not named, according to the Casper Star Tribune. Currently, Wyoming’s cigarette tax of 60 cents per pack is well below the national average of $1.58, while the state’s 20.6% smoking rate is higher than the national average of 17.8%. The state’s cigar tax currently sits at 20% of the wholesale price, though it’s expected that would go up as well as part of the increase.
The committee hopes that the increase will be significant enough to motivate people to stop smoking, but it also acknowledges that the increased revenue will be used to fund a number of state programs that receive payments and interest from the Tobacco Settlement Trust Income Account. The report cites an estimated $14.6 million shortfall in 2018, which a tax increase would help close.
The committee’s recommendation, along with one from the Labor & Health Committee, now heads to the Joint Revenue Committee who will decide whether or not to draft a bill seeking an increase in the tobacco tax.