Utah’s Governor Wants to Tax Vaping at the Same Rate as Cigarettes
Though a wad of chewing tobacco and a puff on a vape pen both can deliver a dose of nicotine, only one of them gives Utah tax collectors their fix. They want to tax vaping at the same rate as cigarettes.
That’s because the 86% of tax which applies to products like chewing and pipe tobacco doesn’t apply to e-cigarettes. Which are increasingly popular with young people in Utah. “It’s time for e-cigarette consumers to pay,” said Gary Herbert, governor of Utah.
Mr. Herbert’s budget proposal, which was released earlier this month, suggest that Utah should tax vaping like traditional tobacco products. In part because of concerns about the rise of e-cigarettes among young people, which is on the rise nationwide.
“Young people’s use of e-cigarettes is growing at an alarming rate,” the governor’s budget documents noted. “ Under Utah’s tax code, the governor proposes to treat e-cigarette liquids, devices and paraphernalia the same as traditional tobacco products.”
The prevalence of e-cigarettes among 8th, 10th and 12th graders in Utah jumped from 5.8 percent in 2013 to 11.1 percent in 2017. According to the state’s Health Department. Research on the potential health effects of e-cigarettes has been limited. But the U.S. surgeon general has warned that the products could contain potentially harmful ultra-fine particles and heavy metals.
Jerome Adams, Surgeon General, said recently that federal officials should take “aggressive steps” to curb childhood use of vape, according to Associated Press. The number of high school students who smoke e-cigarettes has soared, according to a new survey.
Representative Paul Ray of Utah, who has fought unsuccessfully for years to extend the state’s tobacco tax to e-cigarettes, also plans to reintroduce his legislation when Congress meets in January 2019. With the governor’s support, Ray believes his measure is more likely to pass.
Vaping Amongst Youngsters
Ray, R-Clearfield, hopes a tax on e-cigarettes products will help curb the spread of e-cigarette use. He recently said: “My daughter walked into the bathroom of her high school yesterday and found there was a bunch of kids vaping there. It’s at epidemic levels.”
He believes that vape businesses are marketing to young people by providing e-cigarette liquid flavors like root beer and bubble gum.
But Austin Healy, a co-owner of Peak Vapor in Taylorsville thinks otherwise. There are many adults that have a sweet tooth. “Does Paul Ray like to drink soda here and there? Does he love root beer?” he said.
It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to use e-cigarettes, and Healy said his store will do its best not to sell it to minors.
“It’s definitely a concern for young people to have access to these products because they are not designed for them,” said Healy, who serves on the board for the Utah Smoke-Free Association, a group which advocates for the vaping industry. “We’re not trying to fling this stuff to teenagers. We really want to help people find an alternative.”
Further Tax Arguments
Mr. Healy argued the products he sold shouldn’t be subject to the state’s tobacco tax. They are already covered by the state sales tax and are more similar to cigarette alternatives like Nicorette gum.
He said extending the tobacco tax to e-cigarette products would lead to a “huge loss of jobs” in the vaping industry. Utah has 263 vape stores, excluding convenience stores and grocery stores that sell e-cigarettes on their shelves, according to the Utah State Tax Commission.
The issue of smoking is personal for Ray. He, born with a heart defect, said his mother smoked two packs of cigarettes per day while she was pregnant with him. He said he had had four open-heart operations to treat the congenital heart disease.
Now, he worries that e-cigarettes could create a new generation of nicotine addicts.
Ryan is a writer, editor and content creator who spends most of his time bringing the interesting, entertaining, original and well-written articles to vapers. He believes that vaping is not only a healthier alternative to smoking, but also a great experience of life.