Vapers Face An Onslaught Of New Taxes And Restrictions From New York Lawmakers

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Lawmakers in New York are introducing an array of anti-vaping measures in 2018, including an e-cigarette tax, mandatory warnings about battery explosions and total bans on flavors.

Members of the New York State Legislature are heavily focused on stamping out the vaping industry this year, offering proposals that actively ignore peer-reviewed science on the devices, instead relying on debunked narratives about the alleged dangers of the products. One proposal seeks to impose mandatory labeling on vaping devices that read, “WARNING: Explosion Hazard: this product may overheat, catch fire or explode,” reports Mondaq.

Another bill seeks to ban all e-juice that does not come in pre-filled cartridges, literally rendering a vast quantity of products useless. The alarmist proposal claims it wants to raise “awareness of the extreme dangers of these products by banning them from store shelves.”

State Sen. David Carlucci is proposing a 25 cent per fluid milliliter tax on the liquid nicotine used in vaping devices, which is essential to helping smokers satiate their cravings. He argues that the vaping industry is a tool of big tobacco companies intended to hook a new generation on cigarettes, despite the fact most vape ventures are small businesses largely owned and operated by former smokers.

Critics are blasting the proposal as a tax against people who are actively quitting smoking.

A different bill, however, takes it even further, proposing a 75 percent wholesale tax on all vapor products. The sponsors of the legislation willingly establish themselves as anti-science, saying in a statement accompanying the bill that they simply do not believe the claims of public health experts that vaping is “a safe alternative to traditional forms of smoking.”

“As the State continues to fight to lessen the smoking population as a public health measure, allowing an addictive drug like nicotine to be sold without tax is simply counter intuitive,” says the Memorandum in Support of A01138, according to Mondaq.

A separate legislative proposal calls for a total ban on flavors in e-juice and e-cigarette devices. Lawmakers cite the routinely debunked “gateway” theory that flavors are aimed at children and will cause them to become smokers of combustible cigarettes. Public health experts note flavors are actually critical for adults looking to ditch cigarettes, because they help smokers disassociate with the taste of tobacco.

Researchers previously was previously debunked the”gateway” theory on vaping in a collaborative study by researchers at the University of Stirling and Public Health England. Tobacco controllers continue to push the myth, however, even as youth smoking rates plummet to historic lows.

Vapers already face heavy restrictions on where they can use their devices under New York law, which classifies the devices as tobacco products despite the fact that they heat e-juice containing no tobacco. It appears that vapers in New York are in for another year of adversarial legislation.

Advocates of smoking alternatives say alarmism over vaping misses the larger point about e-cigarettes; namely, that they are a harm reduction tool helping millions of smokers quit worldwide.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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