Ohio could soon become the latest state to equate vaping and smoking by raising the vaping tax to match tobacco.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease around the world. As such, we are in constant need for new and effective smoking cessation tools. Vaporizers first hit the scene a little over ten years ago, and while much of the peer-reviewed research indicates extreme harm reduction and smoking cessation value, a majority of the general public still views vaping as just as dangerous as smoking. E-cigarettes are far too often tied in with smoking, giving people the impression they’re basically the same. In fact, Ohio could soon become the latest state to raise their vaping tax to match rates for tobacco.
Both sides of the vaping debate have had strong reactions to the news. Those against vaping applaud the legislators for doing their part to help keep vapes out of the hands of teens. Vaping advocates, on the other hand, implore public health officials and legislators to look at the peer-reviewed evidence for themselves. Experts believe this new tax is likely to pass, given the bi-partisan support, but some in the vaping community aren’t ready to go down without a fight.
Updated Tax Law
Ohio is in the middle of a massive rewrite of its budget for the next two years. Among other controversial decisions, legislators want to raise the tax on e-cigarettes and other vaping products to match with the state’s tobacco taxes. If passed, it would be a rare instance of state senators there voting to raise taxes instead of cutting them. While experts believe the bill will undergo several more changes in the coming days, a final version must be on the desk of Governor Mike DeWine by June 30th. Vaping products sold in the state are already subject to a tax between 5.75% and 8% depending on where you live. This update would more than double the tax to 17%, the same as for tobacco products. Making matters worse, the move would also raise the minimum age to purchase vaping products from 18 to 21.
The tax increase has widespread support in the Senate, but not everyone is happy about the move. However, most legislators were willing to let the vaping tax go thanks to tax cuts elsewhere. According to Senate President Larry Obhof, he’s not worried about fighting this battle because, “The overall budget is a significant tax cut, more than $300 million a year.” While that may help some legislators justify a tax raise, it does little for the many vapers in Ohio who will soon be footed with a larger bill to get the same products.
Going Against The Research
If state legislators took a little more time to look into the independent evidence we have for vaping, tax increases like these wouldn’t happen nearly as often. For instance, we’ve known since 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than continued smoking thanks to a report by Public Health England. Ever since we’ve been getting more and more studies which find much of the same. A few months back researchers with Roswell Park Cancer Institute concluded toxicants in cigarette smoke are about 93% higher than in e-liquid vapor. The most impressive piece of evidence we have for the harm reduction value of vaping is the report from the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is 57,000 times lower than smokers with similar backgrounds.
If you look past the harm reduction value, you still find plenty of reason to support vaping. Researchers from the University of Louisville wanted to test all the most common smoking cessation tools and methods to determine the most likely to succeed. After collecting all their data, the team concluded that not only is vaping an effective smoking cessation tool, but it’s more likely to work than anything else. Finally, worries over the teenage vaping “epidemic” have been quite overblown. In fact, a report of over 60,000 students concluded only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vape more than once or twice.
If we want to secure our vaping rights moving forward, we simply must push back against legislation like this. Depending on where you live, this could be a battle you’re fighting very soon for yourself, so why not help others while you can? The more research we have about vaping, the more traction gained, which in turn makes it harder to regulate the industry to death. If we ever want to end the tobacco epidemic once and for all, we must use all the best tools at our disposal, and that includes vaping.
Do you think an increased tax is a bad idea? What’s the best thing to teach others about vaping? How should legislators regulate vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.