Undoubtedly, electronic cigarettes have become one of the most popular products on the market today, going from novelty devices back in 2006 to the everyday companion of former smokers all across the United States. And while for the regular people e-cigarettes are an alternative nicotine delivery system that stops the cravings without any smoke, tar, ash or carcinogens, for legislators is a great opportunity for extra revenue. Such is the case of Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington, who decided to propose a 95% tax on ecigarettes and all vaping related products while trying to cover some of the State’s budget holes.
However, the tax proposal has not been met with joy and received a lot of criticism in the community, notably by the local ecig shop owners. In their view, such a proposal would clearly put electronic cigarettes under a lot of negative publicity, demonizing them and making them as socially unacceptable as their tobacco counterparts. Ecigs would look like a harmful product that leads to addiction and requires a sumptuary tax – the same way as combustible cigarettes – even though the difference between vapor and smoke is huge. At the same time, the tax would make ecigs roughly the same price as tobacco, giving less incentive to clients that want to give these alternatives a try.
A huge supporter of the Governor’s tax is Representative Reuven Calysle, who believes this measure is good because it liberalizes the market from competition and creates a balance between products. Legislators are not trying to single out vaping, but to bring it to the same level of taxation as in the case of other popular non-combustible products like snuff.
The products in discussion include also a few cigars, besides snuff, but the difference with e-cigarettes is that they don’t contain any tobacco. Instead of promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, the products sold in vape shops across the State are tobacco free and they only contain the active substance – nicotine – in variable form.
However, just like so many other people that don’t understand the differences between vaping and smoking, Representative Reuven Calysle is more against the nicotine rather than the smoke. And there’s a popular saying that nicotine gets people addicted but it’s the smoke that kills them.
Of course, nicotine is highly addictive, but the effects of it on the human body are the same as those of caffeine. If dosed in the right quantities, it doesn’t have any nasty side-effects and certainly doesn’t cause all the illnesses associated with smoking.
A 95% tax increase on electronic cigarettes would have a destructive effect on all vape shops across Washington and many of them would certainly go out of business. At the same time it will leave smokers that are trying to quit without an efficient product that could help them win the battle with tobacco.
Only two other states tax vaping products, Minnesota and North Carolina, but both of them only apply the tax only on the items containing nicotine.