New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget includes a plan to increase dwindling revenue from cigarette sales as more smokers kick the habit: a tax on e-cigarettes. Of course, that is not the official reason being given for the proposed vaping tax increase, but it would certainly help to fill state coffers, since many smokers who quit are only able to do so because of e-cigarettes.
The budget would include e-cigarettes and vaping liquid under the definition of tobacco; a tactic that is being used more and more often to restrict and tax e-cigarettes, despite the fact that they contain no tobacco. Though sometimes the nicotine in e-liquid is extracted from tobacco, that makes some (but not all) e-liquid count as a tobacco product barley by the skin of its teeth. But the power lawmakers have to control vaping products by simply using this definition is remarkable. The tobacco product excuse allows laws that can tax, ban and control the entire production of e-liquid and e-cigarette hardware.
In New York State, which is home to approximately 600 vape shops, the proposed tax would be 10 cents per millimeter of e-liquid. That would put an additional $5 on the price of a 50 millimeter bottle. And that was just the governor’s proposal: The Assembly proposed increasing that tax by four times.
The official reason for these extreme taxes is of course, studies that show that children and teens are attracted to e-cigarettes. As usual, the fact that adult smokers who are improving their health (and the health of the children around them) by switching from smoking to vaping is completely ignored. Taxes like these proposed in New York could make vaping so expensive that smokers might continue smoking or go back to smoking if they already quit by using e-cigarettes.
With no real scientific evidence to support the idea that vaping leads to smoking or that children and teens are vaping much at all, U.S. lawmakers continue to allow their obsessive fears about youth smoking influence their decisions on e-cigarettes. The result is an increasing number of laws that will harm the public health by removing one of the best safe alternatives that smokers have.
Andrew Osborne, vice-president of the New York State Vapor Association, says that in addition to raising the cost of vaping, laws like this will give people the impression that vaping must be as dangerous as smoking. That would seem to be the impression of many lawmakers and anti-smoking groups, who, amazingly, ignore all evidence that shows the relative safety of e-cigarettes and only seem to be impressed by any studies from which the slightest negative finding can be extrapolated.
The NY budget proposal would also add e-cigarettes to the smoking ban under the clean indoor air act. That would ban vaping everywhere smoking is banned, and it would even be banned in vape shops. Business owners will have few rights if these e-cigarette measures pass, but if taken to task, politicians would have a difficult time showing sound scientific evidence to support their anti-vaping agenda.