Wyoming just received its grade on tobacco usage from the American Lung Association (ALA), and to put it softly, it’s less than stellar.
The ALA has reported that in all categories Wyoming has received an ‘F’ for our tobacco consumption. So, where exactly did we fall short? Well, the ALA assesses Tobacco prevention and cessation funding, Smoke-free air, Tobacco taxes, Access to cessation services, and Flavored tobacco products.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the health of people living in rural areas is more impacted by tobacco use than those living in Urban and Metropolitan areas. This is due in large part to socioeconomic factors, culture, policies, and lack of proper healthcare. Tobacco habits prove to be much worse in rural areas. People living in rural areas are more likely to smoke 15 or more cigarettes per day than in metropolitan areas. In addition, in rural regions, adolescents begin smoking at a much earlier age than in suburban and urban areas.
With the widespread acceptance of tobacco usage in our state, the American Lung Association has provided suggestions for actions to take that will influence the future health of Wyoming Residents. The ALA’s suggestions to consider are two-fold; first to reduce tobacco use, and second to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. To do this Wyoming would have to: Raise tobacco taxes by $1.00 or more per pack, Increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and Pass state and/or local smoke-free workplaces.
While this may seem like a lot of work, here is what Wyoming is currently doing. The Wyoming House Revenue committee introduced House Bill 73 to tax electronic cigarettes. The legislation passed both houses and was signed into law by Governor Gordon on March 10, 2020. The law levies a 15% excise tax on the wholesale purchase price of electronic cigarettes and went into effect on July 1, 2020. Currently up for review is HB0055. The legislature is discussing raising the taxes on cigarettes by $.24, which would put our tax on a pack of cigarettes at $.84 per pack. This proposed tax is still less than the national average at $1.88.
The important role that these measures would play is to increase our community and state’s overall health. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop serious and costly conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. However, health risks are not the only factors that determine the quality of life. Financially, a pack-a-day smoker spends roughly $2,700 annually on cigarettes. While some may argue that tobacco, taxes are “regressive” and designed to hurt lower income individuals, it is that same population that is being targeted by big tobacco companies for increasing sales and maximizing profits.
Wyoming, it’s time that we take charge of our individual and state health. If you have ever found yourself thinking about quitting smoking, vaping, or chewing, we hear you! For some, the most difficult factors that deter people from curbing their habits are motivation and cost. Well, we are here to help, and all of the resources provided are FREE!
Resources to help:
Southwest Counseling Service
At SCS we can provide free Nicotine Replacement Treatment. This includes Nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges designed to help curb craving and taper your use. You can also schedule a meeting with our Prevention team Delaney or Shelby to talk about tips and tricks for breaking bad habits. (swcounseling.org)
Wyoming Tobacco Quitline (Quit NOW)
The Wyoming tobacco Quitline provides a confidential and safe platform to discuss how to pursue quitting tobacco. Trained coaches are available around the clock to discuss your journey as you begin a smoke-free lifestyle. Start by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (quitwyo.org)
My Life My Quit
My life my quit is catered towards youth. MLMQ provides a confidential way to quit vaping or smoking. Sign up by texting “Start My Quit” to 36072, a trained coach will help provide you with information and resources to help your quit process. (mylifemyquit.org)
“Ditch Juul” is designed specifically to help those who vape quit. The text line and quit assistance is reachable at 88709 “DITCHJUUL” (thetruthinitiative.org)
Other Webpages to visit: Smokefree.gov, American Lung Association, and the CDC (tobacco).
For more tips and information on quitting or cutting back on your tobacco and nicotine usage, contact Delaney Wells or Shelby Gordon. We are reachable by phone at 307-352-6677 or by email at [email protected]. We would love to talk to you!
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