As the Wyoming Legislature is in full swing, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) believes our lawmakers have more to do in the prevention of tobacco. ACS CAN …
As the Wyoming Legislature is in full swing, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) believes our lawmakers have more to do in the prevention of tobacco. ACS CAN opposes two tobacco bills that fall short of improving the health of citizens of Wyoming and urges the Legislature to reject these flawed proposals.
Senate Bill 50 raises the current state age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21. Although intention of the bill seems honorable, the details are deeply troubling. First, the bill does not allow for tobacco retailer licensing including e-cigarette retailers and active enforcement including penalties for retailers selling to those underage. The penalties should include suspending and revoking the license for noncompliant retailers.
We also oppose this bill because it creates new categories of tobacco products in statute, which sets the stage for exempting certain products from tobacco control laws and regulating and taxing them differently, which will make future tobacco prevention efforts more difficult.
ACS CAN supports strong tobacco 21 policies that covers all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, provides public education and training and technical assistance to retailers, and implements measures for active enforcement — including retailer licensing, regular compliance checks for all retailers — and penalties, including license suspension and revocation for non-compliant retailers.
The other bill concerning to ACS CAN is House Bill 73. This bill would tax e-cigarettes at a rate much lower than all other tobacco products, which is a tactic right out of Big Tobacco’s playbook. Regular and significant tax increases on cigarettes and all other tobacco products including e-cigarettes are one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use. Nearly 36% of Wyoming teens use e-cigarettes; now is not the time to give e-cigarettes a tax break. It is important to tax all tobacco products at an equivalent rate to encourage people to quit rather than switch to a cheaper product.
Unfortunately, the tax on e-cigarettes proposed in HB 73 is neither significant nor is it equivalent to the tax on other tobacco products. Failing to tax e-cigarettes at the same rate as other tobacco products at 20% of their wholesale price poses a danger of exacerbating the youth e-cigarette epidemic.
Tax collected from these tobacco products could also effectively be used for prevention programs and prevent youth from starting to use any tobacco products.
The Legislature has a choice to either be on the right side of history or fall for the tobacco industry’s ploys. We must take a stand against Big Tobacco, stop these tactless bills from advancing, and protect the health of the citizens of Wyoming.
ACS CAN urges lawmakers to vote “no” on these bad tobacco bills that will not reduce tobacco rates or protect kids from a lifetime addiction.
ACS CAN Wyoming government relations director, Cheyenne