Walker Budget Charges Smoking State Workers $50 Insurance Fee


Governor Walker wants to charge state workers who smoke. The monthly $50 fee is included in his budget proposal.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states make public employees pay more for health insurance if they smoke. Governor Walker wants Wisconsin to start. Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis says the fee is an incentive for public employees to quit smoking. “Tobacco users generally cost about 30 to 35 percent more than non-smokers and so obviously we want to promote the health of our state employees.”

What some describe as an incentive, others see as a sin tax. Adam Hoffer is an assistant economic professor at UW La Crosse.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“I don’t see how it’s much different than a sin tax. A user fee, $50 for anyone who smokes is essentially just like raising the price of a dollar per pack of cigarettes per week.”

Hoffer questions how much the fee would reduce smoking. But he says budget woes have states considering the idea, “because of the financial stress that we’re seeing a lot of states come under – even the federal government – I can see this becoming a lot more popular provision.”

The Department of Administration estimates the proposal would bring in $2.7 million over 2 years.