Ecig taxes have been on the horizon for a while now and some states have already gotten on the idea. Just this year we’ve seen a proposal that would hurt Vaping in Utah by enacting a huge 86.5% tax. Not to be outdone, a Vermont ecig tax was also proposed, at a rate of 92%. These are just astounding numbers and, although they haven’t yet made their way through state legislation, they give us cause to be concerned.
The main thrust behind these ecig taxes is that states such as Utah and Vermont are arguing that electronic cigarettes can and need to be taxed like traditional tobacco cigarettes. They say there isn’t a difference between ecigs and tobacco cigarettes, so why would they be taxed differently? Or, at best, they do see a difference between the categories but still deem vapor as a threat to public health and thus they should be taxed. In the same way that the other public health threat, traditional tobacco smoking, is already taxed – to deter people from smoking.
Unfortunately, we are on the brink of seeing a whole lot more of that argument. When the FDA came down and finalized their deeming rule not long ago, they did so within the framework of placing electronic cigarettes in the same bucket as traditional tobacco cigarettes. While they didn’t outright say that there would be ecig taxes, or that there should be higher ecig taxes if they already exist, they may as well have. By deciding to view electronic cigarettes in the same way they view tobacco cigarettes, they have set up state legislatures to cash in on the massive growth of ecigarettes. And that’s exactly what many intend to do.
Ecig Taxes Seen As Cashcow
The thing about these ecig taxes is that, as much as they are proposed to help by “deterring” young people from vaping, that’s not what this is about.
This is about an industry that has grown at a very quick pace and is expected to grow even further. This is about how the government hasn’t been able to get their piece of the pie from the success of ecigs.
Make no mistake, this is not about state governments trying to “protect” their citizens via ecig taxes.
Some politicians aren’t even hiding behind this fact. They know that tobacco taxes have gone down as more people have made the switch to vaping and they’re now looking to replace that lost income. “It does provide revenue when the state needs that increase,” is what Chris Stadelman said. The spokesman for Democratic West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, threw in that, “There’s also a health aspect, especially for young people, to discourage use.” But that was almost an afterthought and clearly not the impetus for when Governor Tomblin proposed an ecig tax to fill the state’s $270 million budget gap.
This is bound to increase as the FDA has basically given the green light for states to instigate ecig taxes similar due to their classifying ecig as tobacco products. “Will there be more legislation? Most likely, yes,” explained Karmen Hanson. Hanson works at the National Conference of State Legislatures as a health policy analyst. “I would anticipate if a state has already tried it, they’ll come back and try again,” she added. With the FDA now essentially backing these moves, more are sure to come.
Where does this leave us? Well, it could leave us in a bind. The good thing is that ecig taxes have only been implemented in a handful of places. Another silver lining is that the FDA decision, while seemingly final, could still change due to an act of congress. We’ve already seen a bill to change the grandfathering date pass a congressional committee, and if it can make it’s way up the ladder it will change the entire picture.
None of that is a sure thing, however. The battle for vaping right is still going strong and you should know that. We need to do everything we can to pressure our own representatives into making the right choice. It’s that, or face ludicrous ecig taxes in the future, because this trend is not likely to end anytime soon.