The e-cig industry is facing statewide attacks from lawmakers who are determined to label e-cigs as a “socially undesirable” element deserving of hefty sin tax, just in the same way alcohol and tobacco products are being taxed.
However, some laws are proving to be discriminatory toward e-cigarettes, even when compared to the traditional sin tax currently being applied to cigarettes and other products.
Statewide taxes on e-cigarettes
Montgomery County in Maryland is proposing a bill that would tax distributors 30 percent of wholesale costs of the products. Louisiana has joined in the e-cig witch hunt, while two more states -Washington and Ohio – are going above and beyond the standard when it comes to censuring this industry. Washington’s proposed legislation pushed by Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle), would ban non-tobacco flavored products and tax e-cigarettes and supplies at the same rate as tobacco products. North Carolina and Minnesota tax e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine by 95 percent of the wholesale cost, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
Ohio’s proposed laws are arguably worse, with Gov. John Kasich proposing a triple increase on current taxes for e-cig products, meaning a 30-milliliter bottle of liquid nicotine would be $33.75, up from approximately $18 plus regular sales tax.
A gateway drug or a great cessation tool?
Politicians like Pollet say that e-cigs are a continuation of the tobacco industry, and that it’s creating a “new generation of nicotine addicts”. The American Lung Association also set the world back with their statement that e-cigarettes are “becoming a gateway to regular cigarettes with marketing tactics targeted at youth.”
However, these comments seem oblivious to the studies and surveys that conclusively show that vaping is leading to the cessation of tobacco use.
Derek Yach, formerly of the World Health Organization, while understanding the anti-smoking sentiment, went on record saying that e-cigarette usage is “saving lives” and that it’s high time people realize “smoking kills, whereas nicotine does not.”
The studies are there—the real question is why does government, especially the U.S. government, turn a blind eye to statistics and scientific evidence while busily spinning statistics?
Or a threat to…?
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, brings up an uncomfortable but increasingly likely scenario. “That’s the ultimate stab in the back to small businesses.” Indeed, the entire backbone of the vaping industry is small business and that is a threat to the tobacco industry and the pharmaceutical industry which currently sells nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and other smoking cessation products.
All of which are not taxed 95% or facing any dire legislation making their health products unprofitable. Little wonder then that vapers and e-cig store owners are currently protesting via social media and in person as these bills are voted on.
Taxes will make e-cigarettes more expensive
The primary threat is certainly not that more or fewer kids will take a whiff of a cigarette or e-cig (which may happen regardless of any legislation) but that high taxes will eventually make e-cigarettes more expensive if more restrictions are passed causing more smokers to continue puffing on their regular cigarette ‘cancer sticks’.
“The end result would be just peachy for big industry—less competition for tobacco and for pharmaceutical companies that are already profiting from their own line of products—and a deathblow to small business and, ultimately and very literally, to the consumer.” says Gina King of VeppoCig.com, a manufacturer of vaporizers and e-cigars.
Should you have choices?
The real question is not whether nicotine is “healthy”, and that has never been the issue (despite popular mis-informed opinion). The question is: should the individual smoker have options for harm reduction alternatives to smoking like e-cigarettes and vaporizers?