A Massive Tax On Vaping Is Being Pushed Under The Guise Of Protecting Minors

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A Republican lawmaker is proposing a massive tax on electronic cigarettes in Michigan in the name of protecting kids from the alleged threat the products pose.

Republican state Rep. Thomas Albert introduced a 27-page bill in the House Tuesday calling for a 32 percent wholesale tax on vaping products, which would go into effect Oct. 1, 2018. The bill treats vaping devices as tobacco products, despite the devices only containing nicotine. Albert says the tax will serve as a way of dissuading children and teens from using e-cigarettes and send the message that nicotine is harmful, reports WZZM 13.

The bill stipulates that 75 percent of revenue raised from the tax will go to the Michigan Medicaid Benefits Trust Fund, with the rest of the money going into the state’s general fund. Albert says officials need to send the message to youths that the “health effects of these products are unknown.”

“Essentially, the purpose of my bill is to treat e-cigarette products as tobacco products,” Albert said Tuesday, according to WZZM 13. “Nicotine is clearly addictive and we want to do our part to ensure these products do not look attractive to minors.”

Albert is following the model of anti-vaping activists who argue, against the data, that vaping represents a threat to the health of teens and is growing in popularity.

A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released June 15 revealed that after a rapid increase in youth vaping between 2011 and 2015, teens are now giving up the habit. The number of middle school and high school students who use a vaping device dropped from 3 million to 2.2 million in 2016.

Proponents of vaping fear a large tax risks smothering small business in the state that rely on the sale of e-cigarettes. A 40 percent tax on vape products that went into effect in October of last year in Pennsylvania is blamed for the closure of more than 150 vape shops.

Overall, the number of vape shops in Pennsylvania has declined roughly 30 percent since officials implemented the tax, according to the Commonwealth Foundation, a policy institute in the state.

Proponents of vaping argue critics are ignoring the positive impact the devices are having on current smokers. Public health experts also note vaping devices offer smokers a viable way to reduce health risks to those around them.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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