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Tobacco Tax Increase Is Approved In Committee

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The Wyoming House Revenue Committee has actually approved a tax bill. Committee members voted to send a 14 cents a pack increase on cigarettes to the House floor. The bill also increases the tax on smokeless tobacco by 12 cents.It's predicted to raise $5.6 million in new revenue for the state with $830,000 going to local governments. Some say the tax will negatively impact poorer people, while others are concerned that it will put Wyoming at a competitive disadvantage with other states. Bill sponsor Rep. Tim Hallinan of Gillette says only Idaho and Nebraska will be cheaper.

"The fact that Colorado raised their tax makes it unlikely that we're going to lose business by causing this tax increase. Plus the South Dakota tax is $1.53 a pack and this will raise our price to 84 cents," he said.

Health experts say the money can offset the costs of treating health issues and could deter people from smoking. Sheridan Rep. Mark Jennings says he worries the bill opens the door to other taxes on things that could be viewed as unhealthy.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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