Politicians Wield Taxes As Weapons In Latest Attack on Vaping
As more and more smokers make the switch from tobacco cigarettes to vaping, our government is feeling the pinch. The sudden downturn in tax income from cigarette sales has caused many politicians to look for alternative income streams and the current target seems to be a tax on vaping devices. Many fear that the recent spike in vaping taxes will actually cause some smokers to avoid switching. After all, one of the initial benefits of vaping is that it’s far cheaper than smoking. But if taxes raise the cost to vape, that incentive is erased leaving many smokers still chained to the deadly tobacco products that kill thousands every year. Politicians seem determined to push for these new taxes, public health be damned.
In Utah, state leaders are currently considering two separate proposals that would each add an 86.5 percent tax to the cost of vapor products, essentially taxing them just like tobacco products. Republican Paul Ray believes the new taxes will keep kids from vaping and it will also add a hefty $10-20 million per year in tax income, which he claims will be directed to rural health programs. Of course, if smokers were ditching tobacco, the cost of public health would decrease astronomically.
In Alaska, tobacco taxes are already high and a new proposal would boost them to the fifth highest in the United States. In light of the northernmost state’s $3.7 billion annual deficit, Gov. Bill Walker also plans to implement a new tax on vapor devices, raising the wholesale price by 100 percent. Of course, Alaska’s leaders insist that a tax on vapor products would be waived if the FDA labeled them as “smoking cessation products” but we all know that it will be a cold day in hell before that happens.
And then we have good old Chicago where Mayor Rahm Emanuel is looking for any way to scrape together additional tax revenue. His recent attacks on vaping have been shameless. First, he included vaping in the clean air ordinance, making it illegal to vape in public buildings, restaurants, or bars. Now he’s trying to increase the minimum age to buy vapor devices from 18 to 21. Emanuel also recently passed a new vapor tax as part of the 2016 budget, assessing a new 80 cents per e-cigarette tax along with 55 cents per milliliter on e-liquids.
It’s clear that politicians are willing to do anything to get extra tax money. If the vapor taxes hurt sales and people stick with smoking, they don’t seem to mind. After all, big tobacco lobbyists are paying for political campaigns right and left. Whether you smoke or vape, the government plans to tax you. But if some leaders in Utah, Alaska, and Chicago get their way, they will tax vapor products right into oblivion.