Lawmakers in Washington state have proposed legislation that would effectively double the cost of vape juice, pods, cartridges, and many e-cigarettes.
HB 1873 would reclassify electronic cigarettes, certain vaping devices, and vape juices as tobacco products akin to cigarettes, and apply a 95% e-cigarette tax statewide. The proposed legislation is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Finance. Currently the tax on vaping products in the state is 60%.
The proposed bill designates that at least 75% of the money raised from the new e-cigarette tax would be placed in a Department of Health account that would be used for public education, training of public health professionals, and to fund tobacco prevention efforts.
The bill’s rationale for lumping e-cigarettes in with combustible cigarettes appears to be two-fold, first that because vape juice is “almost exclusively” derived from tobacco and the products are “intended for human consumption in the oral or nasal cavity or absorption into the human body”, and second, that teens are using vape pens to inhale pot, CBD, and potentially, drugs.
Well, they think that teens are using e-cigarettes to inhale drugs.
“The legislature finds that there is extensive documentation and reporting of vapor products being used by minors in public schools, and that school officials have no readily available means to determine if the liquids being vaporized and inhaled are free of nicotine or illegal substances.”
The bill’s sponsors also attempt to make a connection between the lower price of e-cigarettes, and increased youth use.
“The legislature finds that there is strong evidence that low prices increase youth access to vapor products, as with cigarettes. Therefore, the legislature intends to tax these products to both decrease youth access and to provide funding for nicotine and other drug use prevention, education, enforcement, and research; foundational public health; and public health professional education and training purposes.”
Where the Washington bill falls short is in its assumption that e-cigarettes and cigarettes are created equal, and pose an equally significant risk to the public. This is not the case. Multiple medical studies have found that not only does vaping carry a much lower health risk than combustible cigarettes, but that it is one of the most effective tools to help people quit smoking.
The e-cigarette tax bill is also flawed in its assumption that while some teens are willing to break state vaping laws (such as age restrictions) or drug laws (such as marijuana laws), that a higher tax will put them on the straight and narrow. What the law fails to consider are all of the adult, legal users of e-cigarettes and vaping products, who will be negatively impacted by the new law, not to mention the cost to vaping businesses in the state.
Soupwire will continue to bring you the latest on this developing story and other vape news.