You Won’t Believe Which State Is Overtaxing Vaping Now
Kentucky Lawmakers Pass Bill To Increase Tax On Vapor And Tobacco Products
Vaping has faced a wave of constant legislative onslaught and unwarranted media hysteria following a series of injuries misattributed to vaping and concerns over youth vaping. Despite nicotine vaping not being responsible for any vaping related injuries, and concerns over youth vaping being dramatically overblown, legislators continue their systemic attacks against the vapor industry.
The Kentucky state House passed a bill to add vapor products to the state’s current list of smokable tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars. This measure would subject vapor products to the state’s wholesale tobacco tax, which itself is increasing from 15% to 25%.
The bill’s sponsor has stated the bill is projected to raise $50 million over the next two years, while also stating the goal is to make it more expensive for people to purchase potentially risky products. It should be noted this sponsor failed to say how the bill is going to reach their goal when its stated intention is to have people purchase fewer nicotine-related products.
Overtaxation of nicotine products most often targets some of the most vulnerable in our communities. Research has repeatedly shown nicotine use and addiction to be most prevalent among lower-income communities, where such excessive tax increases would be the most detrimental.
The Kentucky statehouse passed House Bill 32, a bill that would add vapor products to the state’s list of smokable tobacco products, subject to the state’s tobacco wholesale tax. The wholesale tax is also set to increase from 15% to 25%.
House Representative Jerry Miller, sponsor of the bill, has stated the bill is projected to raise nearly $50 million over the next biennium. Rep. Miller has also stated that the goal of the bill is to reduce access to nicotine-based products, but has failed to reconcile how the state is expected to reach both.
When the bill had passed out of committee, a group of nearly 400 vape shop owners throughout the state petitioned the house, warning legislators of the prospective dangers of such prohibitive policies. Such measures would directly impact their businesses, potentially costing the state thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue. Furthermore, the tax increase may disproportionately target lower-income Kentuckians, possibly driving them back toward tobacco or black market alternatives.
The new bill is a critical component of Governor Andy Beshear’s proposed two-year state budget. The governor’s proposed budget assumes the passage of the legislation netting the state $54.8 million over the next two years, alongside a 10% increase in cigarette taxes expected to net the state an additional $40 million in projected tax revenue.
In a piece published in the journal Science, a group of renowned public health scholars came together to speak out against blanket bans on vaping. They note that there is currently no evidence vaping is harmful and that restrictive policies such as those proposed in Kentucky may turn former smokers toward tobacco or even the black market.
A myriad of studies have demonstrated vaping’s efficacy as a smoking cessation aid. As an example, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies in helping people quit smoking and remain tobacco-free. In addition, research from the University of Louisville found that vaping was the most effective form of smoking cessation available today.
Alongside the multitude of evidence noting the efficacy of vaping as a smoking cessation device, there are a series of studies noting the reduced harm vaping poses compared to tobacco. For example, research from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center each found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
Kentucky’s tax increase on vapor products targets some of the most vulnerable populations in the state. Similar tax increases on cigarettes have disproportionately negatively impacted lower-income citizens, who tend to use nicotine products more than other socio-economic groups.
The premise of the bill itself makes little sense under the slightest bit of scrutiny. Rep. Miller has failed to demonstrate how the bill would hit the projected increases in tax revenue when the core premise of the bill is to reduce access to the products being taxed.
Members of Kentucky’s vaping industry and community must band together to speak out against and help strike down HB 32. A campaign of sustained civic engagement and informative discourse offers the best opportunity to help shift the public perceptions surrounding vaping.
What are your thoughts regarding Kentucky’s tax increase on vapor products? How do you believe this increase will impact vapers in the state going forward? We would love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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