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Additional Tax On Tobacco Dies In Committee

Illustration of a person vaping an e-cigarette
Consumer Reports

The House Revenue Committee voted not to adopt an additional tax on tobacco products including e-cigarettes. It would have attached one more dollar on the end of tobacco sales.

Those for the tax argued it would boost state revenue while improving public health. Tobacco is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control. Jason Mincer, government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said the dollar increase is the appropriate amount. Any lower would prompt tobacco companies to find loopholes to keep costs down. They could do that by offering consumers coupons or selling wholesale products more cheaply.

"If the tobacco tax increase is more than a dollar, it's really hard for them to do that and we still see the reductions in smoking rates and therefore the reductions in hidden diseases like cancer," Mincer said.

But the other side argued it would push consumers to buy cigarettes outside of the state while encouraging illegal sales. Tom Jones with the Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association said it would also hurt grocery and convenience stores.

"They lose a great deal of sales and thus profit and ultimately jobs," he said.

Another bill is still under discussion that would equalize the tobacco tax across the state, including on the Wind River Reservation.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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