A bill to raise Wyoming’s cigarette tax failed in the House of Representatives today, but will be voted on again Wednesday, after Pinedale Representative Sommers asked for a reconsideration.
House Bill 151 would raise the tax from 60 cents a pack to 90 cents. Opponents of the bill say the increased taxes would hurt small business across the state, and would not deter smokers from buying cigarettes.
Laramie Representative Catherine Connolly disagreed saying that the increased tax is predicted to bring $9 to $10 million in revenues for the state’s general fund.
"That is a significant addition to our general fund, or wherever we’re pointing it to, in a time when we absolutely need that revenue," said Connolly. "And we haven’t raised the tax in 13 years, 15 years, because we haven’t needed to."
American Cancer society studies show that higher costs do decrease smoking, but only when they are significant increases in cost.
Today’s vote was 22 to 38 against the bill, but Connolly said she is confident the next vote will go in favor of the bill.