Cancer Society Official Wants Higher Cigarette Tax
An official with the American Cancer Society of Wyoming says the state legislature should increase taxes on cigarettes.
Deb Simpson, Manager for the Wyoming Cancer Society's Action Network Grassroots Program, says the average tax on a pack of cigarettes nationally is $1.59, while in Wyoming the state tax is only 60 cents a pack. Simpson says Medicaid expenses in Wyoming on tobacco-related illnesses, such as lung cancer, currently run $37 million annually.
She says adding a dollar to the state tax on a pack of cigarettes would raise roughly $22 million, which could be used for healthcare and tobacco education. She also says the higher tax would discourage young people from becoming smokers, reducing the healthcare costs to the country over the long-term.
Simpson says she would also like to see state lawmakers ban the use of tanning beds for anyone under the age of 18. She says research clearly shows that use of a tanning bed by people under 35 increases their risk of eventually developing skin cancer by 59 percent.
Simpson admits it will be difficult to get the tanning bed legislation introduced in the 2016 legislature because of the fact that next year is scheduled as a budget session for state lawmakers. That means any non-budgetary item will require a 2/3 vote to be introduced.