‘Absolutely Insane’ Tax On Vaping Likely Dead In Connecticut Budget Fight

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A massive tax on vapor products proposed in Connecticut will not be included in the state budget, according to comments Thursday from a top lawmaker in the state.

Democratic House Majority Leader Matt Ritter said the final budget lawmakers vote on will have “virtually no” tax hikes, including the proposed 75 percent tax on vapor products bought from wholesalers. Swift public backlash from health advocates and small business owners helped the vaping community mobilize after the tax was announced Sept. 8 as part of a budget compromise from Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, reports NBC Connecticut.

Owners of vaping businesses in Connecticut began urging their customers to pressure state lawmakers into voting against the proposal, which Malloy wants lawmakers to pass this week. The tax threatened to devastate the small business community in Connecticut and undo gains made on reducing the smoking rate.

Ted Szabo, owner of E-Six Vapors, called the tax “absolutely insane.”

“Efforts to change tax laws in ways that reduce the likelihood that people will switch away from deadly combustible products must rank among the most counterproductive strategies ever conceived,” David Sweanor of the Center for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday. “Yet they keep surfacing, and not from the cigarette companies so much as from self-styled anti-smoking groups.”

Critics argue that onerous taxes like the Connecticut proposal will crush state businesses into bankruptcy while having little impact on the habits of residents. Advocates argue if prices go up in the state, vapers will simply opt to buy their products through online retailers. They also note that as the industry shrinks under the weight of the tax, the revenue coming into the state would rapidly diminish.

The state House of Representatives will discuss the budget Thursday afternoon, though it is unclear if Republicans will attempt to offer an alternative budget plan. The state Senate is expected to receive the budget Thursday night.

While Ritter says the vape tax will not be included in any final proposal, there are no certainties until the budget comes to a vote.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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