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Governor Cuomo Proposes Steep Vape Tax and Regulations

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has joined the ranks of politicians who are ignoring science when it comes to e-cigarettes and vaping. Despite evidence that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes, Cuomo wants to tax and ban vaping, a move that his spokesman says is “consistent with New York’s ‎long standing and successful smoking cessation efforts.”

Except that vaping doesn’t involve any smoke. Nevertheless, the e-liquid tax, which is part of the governor’s proposed $152.3 billion state budget, would tax e-liquid 10 cents per milliliter and ban vaping wherever smoking is banned in the state.

If the proposal is approved, all e-liquid would be taxed at the wholesale level, which could hurt small businesses that sell vaping products and even force some of them out of business.

Vaping advocates are once again bewildered by the absence of logic in the proposed tax, which would even include e-liquid that does not contain nicotine. If passed, the vaping tax will make New York the seventh state to impose e-cigarette taxes, joining Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Louisiana, Kansas, North Carolina and West Virginia. California will also impose a wholesale vaping tax beginning April 1.

The major benefactors of these taxes are state government coffers. New York has been losing money in cigarette tax sales in recent years. Last year the state took in about $1.3 million on tobacco taxes, which is estimated to drop to $1.2 billion this year. But the new vaping tax is expected to rake in $3 million. That’s a pretty good profit, and all it took was to put a smoke-free product under the state’s smoking-cessation effort.

It should also be noted that while even no-nicotine e-liquid would be taxed under the law, currently nicotine replacement therapy products have no extra tax, with New Yorkers only have to pay the normal state sales tax when purchasing these products. While New York’s e-liquid tax, for now, would only be on e-liquid sold at the wholesale level, most states that have imposed e-liquid taxes have aimed those taxes at direct consumers of vaping products. Pharmaceutical companies certainly stand to gain when their sales-tax-only products are directly competing with vaping products that are “sin taxed” in addition.

So while government and Big Pharmaceutical stand to gain from vaping taxes, who loses? Small business that sell vaping products, current smokers who are looking for smoke-free alternatives, and former smokers who have already quit by switching to e-cigarettes. As for the general populace, while we are being told that we will all benefit by having “cleaner air” if vaping is restricted, the evidence to support that idea just isn’t there.

Electronic Cigarettes • April 5, 2017

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