Dear Editor: In recent years, we have seen a decline in smoking among both youth and adults in Wisconsin. This may be attributed to the 75-cent tax increase on cigarettes we saw four years ago. Even though we have seen a decrease in cigarette smoking, we have seen an alarming increase in the use of Other Tobacco Products (OTPs) among youth.
Examples of OTPs include chewing tobacco, little cigars, snus and snuff. These products do not fit under the tax umbrella that cigarettes do. Therefore, these OTPs are priced considerably cheaper than cigarettes due to this tax inequity. Since these products are much cheaper than cigarettes, they are much more attractive to someone who may not have the money to buy cigarettes — like youth.
I would like to see all tobacco products taxed evenly — and, as a result, fairly. This could reduce the rates that youth are becoming addicted to these products and life tobacco users. Another benefit of tax equity is that it would generate a lot of money to help us balance our state budget, as well as fund tobacco programs to help tobacco users quit and keep youth from starting.
Please join me in encouraging our state representatives to fight for tax equity of tobacco products.