Americans for Tax Reform today wrote to Wyoming lawmakers, urging them to oppose HB55, legislation that would increase the highly regressive tobacco excise tax on cigarettes and moist loose tobacco.

ATR Director of Consumer Issues, Tim Andrews, wrote: “This highly regressive tax hike would hurt struggling Wyoming families at the time they can afford it least, and do nothing to reduce smoking rates. Evidence shows that increasing the tobacco tax further would have no impact on smoking rates, would hurt struggling families and businesses and would be a boon to black market criminal syndicates. Furthermore, as consumers simply shift to the black market, states have consistently failed to raise the revenue that has been projected to be raised from such tax hikes meaning the touted benefits of this bill will never be realized”

Andrews added that “As families and businesses struggle during the Covid-induced economic downturn, it is simply unconscionable to burden them with further tax increases that would benefit no-one except for criminal syndicates”

HB55 would also increase taxes on smokeless tobacco, a vital harm reduction tool proven to be 90-95% less harmful than traditional tobacco. The FDA has authorized manufacturers to market smokeless tobacco as a harm reduction tool saying its use compared to cigarettes “puts you at a lower risk of mouth cancer, heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.”

Andrews concluded “To increase taxes on a product authorized by the FDA as a reduced risk product – leading to more people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes – would violate every rule of appropriate public health policy. Small increases in projected revenue should never come at the expense of human lives.”

The full letter can be downloaded here