American Greed: Why states like California are raising taxes on e-cigs and vaping

On November 8, California became the seventh state to implement a massive tax on e-cigs and vaping technology by passing Prop 56.  The new legislation will raise the costs of vaping products by approximately 60 percent and the price of a pack of cigarettes by another $2.  But is this growing trend a referendum on public health – namely, teen smoking as so many public officials suggest – or something far more devious – pure, old-fashioned American Greed.

As smoking rates plummet nationwide, so do related tax revenues.

California is superseded only by Utah as the state with the lowest numbers of smokers per capita.  Since 1989, California has witnessed a 44 percent drop in tobacco tax revenues from $1.6 billion to about $830 million annually.  By passing Prop 56, the state has single-handedly increased those revenues to roughly $1 billion in the first year alone, with a large chunk of the money allegedly geared towards healthcare costs for low income families.

Other states are also taxing e-cigs and vaping technology as a quick and easy way to refill their depleted state coffers with new tax revenues.  North Carolina recently passed a new state e-cig tax that will increase the cost of 1 milliliter of e-liquid by $.0.05.  For a small, 10ml bottle of e-juice, that’s a $0.50 rise in cost compared to the new $0.45 tax increase on a pack of cigarettes in the same state.

Quitting smoking through vaping is quickly becoming too expensive.

States like North Carolina and California are now essentially taxing vaping technology much harsher than the deadlier alternatives of conventional cigarettes. Legislators and public officials are demonizing e-cigs rather than embracing them by making claims that electronic cigarettes cause everything from popcorn lung to birth defects, oral cancer, and everything in between.

Yet none of these ”scientific studies” from agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ever mention the comparable risks associated with tobacco cigarettes.  While there might by an ever-so-slight connection between vaping and smoking related diseases, the American People are being told by government officials that the health risks of e-cigs and conventional cigarettes are identical.

Are government officials lying to The American People?

It doesn’t take a college degree to determine that a pack of Marlboros with its thousands of included toxic chemicals is far more likely to cause cancer or respiratory disease than flavor-enhanced water vapor from e-cigs.  Yet the American People continue to be led astray.

“It’s one of the nastiest debates I’ve ever seen in the public health community, and I’ve been researching tobacco control policies for 40 years…The momentum, if you will, is in the direction against e-cigarettes, for sure, and it is unfortunate in a big way, because we may be missing out on a potential intervention that could reduce the toll of smoking by a lot.” -Kenneth Warner, Professor of Public Health from the University of Michigan

Officials from the CDC and the FDA consistently attempt to justify their increased contempt for electronic cigarettes by stating a growing concern and unsubstantiated claim that vaping leads to teenage smoking.  It’s a clever marketing tactic because Americans will always vote for legislation that is meant to protect those who cannot protect themselves – our children.

However, the truth is much uglier.  By overregulating and overtaxing a fledgling vaping industry with no real political power, politicians can temporarily replenish the diminishing tax revenues from the sales of tobacco cigarettes until such time that the entire vaping industry is nearly wiped out, which the FDA deeming regulations promise to achieve.

Then once again, Big Tobacco will take over, and state governments will make even more money from the new tax hikes previously placed on conventional cigarettes during the “vaping era.”  Big Tobacco doesn’t win.  The vaping industry doesn’t win.  The only “winners” are state legislatures like those of California and North Carolina that will be laughing all the way to the proverbial bank for decades to come.

Article Credit: Matt Rowland

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