California Wants To Tax Vaping Products
Talk of a vape tax in California has begun, and it seems like this is only the beginning of the fight.
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Proposition 56 was on the ballot for the November elections. The ballot initiative is meant to place a steep increase on both traditional cigarettes and vape products, placing an estimated $2 tax on both products. If passed, the proposition is expected to bring in about one billion dollars in state revenue for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
This is, of course, if the initiative passes. If it does pass, California will become the fifth state in the nation to require vape taxes, and more states could soon follow.
California voters have refused to approve any tax hikes on cigarettes since 1998, although the state has recently raised the legal age for vaping and smoking to 21. The state also bans vaping in several common areas and public spaces, including work areas, restaurants, and hospitals. In many ways, California residents view vaping the same way they view smoking.
But they are not yet ready to tax vaping products or cigarettes. Cigarette tax initiatives were defeated in both 2006 and 2012 by residents, and it doesn’t seem like that trend is going to change anytime soon. After all, the groups against Proposition 65, including Big Tobacco, has already raised more than twice the money that anti-vaping and anti-smoking activists have.
Some pro-vaping spokespeople, such as David Sutton for the cigarette conglomerate Altria Group, Inc., which also owns a vaping company called Nu Mark, spoke out about this issue. Sutton stated that: “Burdensome taxes on innovative tobacco products like e-vapor could impede adult consumer interest and therefore could interfere with the development of an effective and consistent national tobacco strategy.”
California vapers are not worried yet, although some conversations within the community have led to the understanding that some vapers would revert to cigarettes should the tax pass. The reason for this is simple: Cigarettes have always been cheaper than vaping products.
Cigarettes are also more dangerous.
While more research is needed to understand how vaping affects a person’s health, it is already clear that it is a far healthier alternative to smoking. And with the addition of the tax, it might be fair to say that vape shops may close altogether in the state, or that vapers may move to buying their supplies online, where taxes on vape supplies is murky.
Either way, it’s a stretch of the imagination to believe that California will be able to collect the one billion dollars it believes it might earn if Proposition 56 passes. This publication will continue to update readers with more information as it becomes available.