LANDER — Limiting future tobacco use is not exactly a part of the job description for members of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue.
However, after a pair of bills intended to curb the use of tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vaporizers among minors — a tobacco tax increase and updated regulations on tobacco products — failed in the 2019 session, members of the committee spent most of Thursday morning contemplating whether or not a tax on such products, or some other deterrent, could help end what has been described by the U.S. Surgeon General as an “epidemic” among youth today.
The group plans to work on several bills intended to tackle the issue ahead of the 2020 budget, including restrictions on online sales, raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products, and potentially introducing a tax that’s costly enough to serve as a deterrent.
Over several hours of testimony, members of the committee heard the pros and cons of using taxation as a deterrent for high schoolaged consumers, and whether or not such a tax would unfairly harm current smokers who use products like vaporizers and e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.
Administrators from several school districts testified that the use of nicotine products in their schools have increased dramatically over the past several years. In Pinedale, 70 percent of all outof-school suspensions are for vaping. Rock Springs High School has suspended 95 students so far this year for vaping, and in Riverton five $750 tickets have been issued by school resource officers in the past several years.
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