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Jason Rantz

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New bill would tax vaporizers as if they were cigarettes

(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Democrats in the House are pushing a bill that would change the definition of tobacco so that they could tax numerous other items. House bill 1873 would lump all vaping products into the taxing mix as tobacco products, even though tobacco isn’t present.

The original bill would have levied this at 95 percent of the wholesale price, though that since has lowered to 60 percent. Vape shop owners across the state have been complaining, and the owner of local company Fatboy Vapors emailed The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to say the bill in its original form would cost him about $20,000 per store in taxes, and effectively shut him down.

Rep. Jesse Young (R-26th) joined the show to discuss the potential ramifications of the bill and why Democrats are pushing it.

“There seems to be a fanatic desire to go after this industry, and socially dictate how people live their lives,” he said. “I’m surprised they moved it in such a hasty manner, given how much opposition there is to it.”

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The support broke down along party lines with Republicans opposing it and all but one Democrat supporting it. Young says the bill proponents aren’t interested in hearing about the social value of vaping, and are simply looking for tax revenue and social engineering.

“If they’re trying to say that this is social benefit to get people off nicotine, then why tax the non-nicotine products? And then they’ve got what I think is a very punitive tax in here, which is that they want to go and tax all the previous inventories,” he said. “It would effectively make them pay for inventory they’ve already purchased. Where are they going to get the money for that? They bought those under different rules.”

A recent study from the Queen Mary University of London found that E-cigarettes are nearly twice as effective as nicotine patches and gum in helping smokers to quit.

“They want tax revenue, and this is a way that they think they can get it. I think they’re absolutely wrong,” Young said. “The tax revenue will literally vaporize if they tax this way because people will go underground or they’ll buy it online in ways that we don’t have a mechanism yet proven to tax it.”

“At the expense of killing a lot of local small businesses, you’re going to try to create a taxing system that won’t produce the revenue you hoped for in the first place, either.”

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