Chicago’s New Ecig Tax Spells Disaster for Public Health and Small Businesses
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is doing everything possible to increase tax revenue in Chicago. With deficits reaching hundreds of millions of dollars, the city cannot afford to pay police and firefighter pensions without taking drastic measures. That’s why Emanuel has decided to target the ecig community. Since many smokers have already switched to ecigs, it’s an instant pool of tax money that could boost the city’s bank account by over a million dollars each year. Of course, the tax revenue comes at a cost.
The ones who will pay the biggest price are vapers and owners of the ecig shops in Chicago. With an ecig tax nearly equivalent to Chicago’s staggering tobacco tax, many vapers won’t be able to afford their ecigs anymore. They will have to either go back to smoking or go outside of the city limits to purchase their vaping gear, putting Chicago area vape shops out of business permanently. Either way, it’s a disaster for public health and small business and Mayor Rahm Emanuel is responsible.
The American Vaping Association is urging Chicago’s residents to oppose the new tax. Gregory Conley, the association’s president, condemned the mayor’s attack on vapers and vape shops. “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.”
If the City Council approves the ecig tax, it would mean an extra $1.25 per cartridge and 25 cents per milliliter of eliquid. To put that in perspective, the average pack of five cartridges would instantly see a $6.25 price jump. The average 30ml eliquid would suddenly be $7.50 more expensive. This is a steep jump that will definitely cause a ripple of sticker shock among smokers. In fact, many tobacco users will see no incentive to switch if vaping is just as expensive or even more expensive than using conventional cigarettes.
Even with the new ecig tax, Chicago has a long way to go to climb out of their budgetary woes. Mayor Emanuel is hiking taxes in every possible arena to offset the shortages. That means the city will see new taxes on garbage collection, taxis, and even ride-hailing services like Uber. The Mayor is also trying to increase property taxes at historic rates that could leave many homeowners unable to pay their mortgage.
Conley said Chicago will suffer is the mayor doesn’t change his course of action soon. “Vapor products are helping adult smokers quit. Taxing these smoke-free and tobacco-free products like cigarettes will prove to be a fatal mistake.”
Do you think ecigs should be taxed at similar rates as tobacco products? Is this fair?