Cigarette smoking rates among high school students have dropped significantly in recent decades—in Wyoming and the rest of the country. That’s according to the results of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey released last week.
Last year, 17 percent of Wyoming high-schoolers reported regularly smoking cigarettes. That’s slightly above the national average, but down from 40 percent in 1991, when the survey began.
A House committee has approved a bill that would raise the cigarette tax by five-cents-per-cigarette and a dollar a pack. Republican Representative Gerald Gay of Casper is the main sponsor. He says money from the increase will help offset rising Medicaid costs.
“And tobacco is related to that because tobacco has such a profound impact on health care," Gay said. "So we figured out a way to sort of frontload health care costs against one of the biggest health care users that there is.”