Legislative Committee Rejects Tobacco Tax Increase

Sep 23, 2016

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Revenue Committee meets in Buffalo, Wyoming on September 22, 2016.

Wyoming’s tobacco tax will remain among the lowest in the nation—at least for now. The Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee overwhelmingly rejected a bill Thursday that would have raised the cigarette tax from 60 cents to 90 cents.

 

Committee co-chair Representative Mike Madden says the proposed increase would have allowed Wyoming’s tax to keep up with inflation. The last cigarette tax increase was in 2003.

 

“The costs that we incur with the general fund money that defrays Medicaid expenses on smoking caused problems, health problems, and so on—that doesn’t say constant,” Madden said.

 

But those against raising the tax opposed it on principle or argued it would hurt small businesses.

 

Although the bill failed in committee, it is unlikely to be the last time the Legislature is asked to consider the tax.

 

“I think it’s coming, it’s being talked about more and more,” said Senator Ray Peterson. “And I’ll tell you what’s driving the issue—the less revenue the state has to work with.”

 

Wyoming is experiencing a major budget shortfall as a result of decreased oil, gas and coal production.