These States Are Shamelessly Taxing Ecigs to Line Their Pockets and Support Big Tobacco
You’ve probably heard politicians spout rhetoric about the dangers of tobacco use, but make no mistake about it; tobacco is not the enemy of any state in our nation. The real enemy these days is electronic cigarettes and some state leaders will stop at nothing to put an end to ecigarettes regardless of how it impacts public health. You see, tobacco sales equal dollar signs in the eyes of politicians who are funded by lobbyists from the Big Tobacco companies. Better yet, tobacco sales bring in a steady flow of tax revenue so states can have bigger budgets and more elaborate galas and events to entertain the big wigs in the capital.
Electronic cigarettes are posing a serious threat to tobacco in our nation. As smokers continue to make the switch to ecigs, tax revenue from tobacco is falling. Politicians are under mounting pressure to wage war against electronic cigarettes and they will stop at nothing to get the tax revenue back up to cushy levels. In the latest battle strategy against ecigs, some state leaders are turning to new taxes as a way to kill the ecig industry.
Just take a moment to consider Utah, a state where leaders like Republican Paul Ray have tried to convince people that ecigs are bad because they appeal to kids. When this tactic didn’t work, Utah’s leaders decided to try the tax strategy. There are currently two new proposals under consideration that would add an 86.5 percent tax to the cost of ecigarettes, insuring that they are just as expensive or more so than tobacco products.
Rep. Ray said taxing ecigs would add a nice $10-20 million per year to the state’s tax revenue and he insists that money would be funneled into rural health programs. Of course, those health programs wouldn’t cost near as much as people stopped smoking. But you won’t hear Rep. Ray say anything about how ecigs help smokers quit.
Then we have Alaska, a state that already taxes tobacco products at an above average rate. Now Gov. Bill Walker is trying to implement a new tax on ecigarettes to raise the wholesale price by 100 percent. His motive? Make a dent in the state’s $3.7 billion annual deficit that is earning him some seriously bad press. Of course, Alaska’s leaders promise that they will stop taxing ecigs if the FDA categorizes them as “smoking cessation products” but we all know that won’t happen anytime soon.
Over in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also waging war on ecigarettes and trying to scrape together any extra tax dollars he can find. Over the past year, we’ve seen the Mayor include ecigs in the clean air act, banning them from use in all public places. He has passed a new ecig tax as part of this year’s budget, which adds an extra 80 cents per e-cig and 55 cents per milliliter on eliquid. Vape shops are feeling the pinch already and now Emanuel is trying to increase the minimum age to buy ecigs from 18 to 21. His efforts to stop the ecig industry are really shameless.
These three states are just a small picture of what is happening nationwide. States are feeling the pinch as tobacco tax dollars plummet. They are trying to scare people away from ecigarettes with junk science and claims that ecigs will harm our children. In case that doesn’t work, now they are implementing taxes on ecigarettes as a back up plan to help drive up prices, giving Big Tobacco an extra advantage. It’s obvious that America’s crooked politicians aren’t even remotely interested in what is best for public health. Instead, it’s all about the money.