Utah vapers could be hit with an 86.5 percent tax on e-cigarettes if a bill proposed Friday passes the state legislature.
State Rep. Paul Ray introduced the bill HB333, which would tax e-cigarettes at the same rate as other non-cigarette tobacco products, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
E-cigarettes “are not taxed now because they are relatively new and they have never been put into the tax code, or into any code, as a tobacco product,” said Ray. “It has nicotine in it, so it is a tobacco product.” E-cigarettes themselves do not contain any tobacco.
Ray claimed that e-cigarette producers are targeting children with certain fruit flavorings and said 10,000 high school students had signed a petition in favor of the bill. Health officials attacked the rising level of advertising from the e-cigarette industry.
Ray’s bill would use extra revenue from the tax to improve health care in rural areas. Lawmakers also are considering using such a tax to help fund expanding Medicaid to people uncovered in Utah, mostly targeting poor, rural areas, Ray said.
E-Cigarette advocates told The Salt Lake City Tribune the tax was not only disproportionate but also dangerous. Shilo Platts, with the Utah chapter of the Smoke-Free Trade Alternatives Association, said “seeking a punitive tax on vapor products is the wrong approach. It’s time Utah embraced harm-reduction, instead of a regressive tax that pushes vapers back to combustible tobacco or one that creates a black market.”
The proposed tax rise comes less than a week after an Oregon Democrat introduced a bill to raise the retail tax on e-cigarettes and e-liquids. Rep. Phil Barnhart is sponsoring House Bill 4062 which raises the retail tax by an eye-watering 50 percent.
But the e-cigarette industry aren’t the only ones fighting against the new taxes. Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) are a staunch critic of anti-vaping movement and has launched a new website Stope Vape Taxes.