Rahm Emanuel’s New Tax on Ecigs Could Cripple Businesses and Kill Smokers
In the heart of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is waging a war against electronic cigarettes with a brazen new tax plan. In hopes of boosting the city’s tax revenue, the Mayor wants to tax ecigs at a staggering rate that would be almost equal to the $7.17 tax smokers currently pay per pack of cigarettes. As more smokers are hanging up the tobacco habit in favor of the vapor alternative, Mayor Emanuel sees only dollar signs and is willing to sacrifice public health if that’s what it takes to see a surge in Chicago’s tax revenue.
Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, condemned the mayor’s tax plans. “Mayor Emanuel’s message to smokers is clear – please don’t quit. The government desperately needs your money,” Conley said. “This is a shameless tax grab that will not only cost lives, but also put most or all of Chicago’s twenty-plus vapor retail stores out of business. Instead of shopping at Chicago businesses, residents will simply purchase outside the city limits or online.”
By taxing ecigarettes and eliquids, Chicago would increase tax revenue by at least $1 million annually. The current plan would add a tax of $1.25 on each ecig cartridge and 25 cents per milliliter of eliquid. That means that a typical five pack of cartridges would carry an extra $6.25 tax. A typical 30ml bottle of eliquid would have an extra tax of $7.50.
Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno said the tax would help deter young people from using ecigs. “Big Tobacco is now going at our youth in a different way, through technology, and through vaping and e-cigarettes.” Moreno believes that young vapers would be less inclined to use ecigs if the price increases.
Even if the new ecig tax is approved by City Council, it won’t go very far to fill the budget hole. Right now, the Mayor needs to find hundreds of millions of dollars to revive the city’s financial situation and pay police and firefighter pensions. He has also announced plans to institute a new garbage collection tax and a per-ride fee on taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber. The Mayor is even going to target property taxes, with a proposed increase that would be the largest in modern Chicago history.
For now, it’s up to Chicago residents to fight back against unfair taxation. Conley issued an urgent call for vapers in the city to take a stand. “Vapor products are helping adult smokers quit. Taxing these smoke-free and tobacco-free products like cigarettes will prove to be a fatal mistake,” he cautioned.
Do you think Chicago’s vapers will put up a fight? Would this new tax be a fatal blow to area vape shops?