Maine may soon become the latest state to equate vaping and smoking by raising the vaping tax to match the tobacco tax.
It’s hard to believe, given all we’ve accomplished over the last several decades, but smoking still remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease around the world. As such, it’s a worldwide crisis in need of constant innovation and improvement. Unfortunately, over the years, vaping has been overwhelmingly equated with smoking in both the media and legislation. While this made sense at first, given the visual similarities. We now have years of evidence proving they are incredibly different. Regardless, Maine is set to become the latest state to essentially equate vaping and smoking by applying tobacco laws to e-cigarettes.
The most significant impact of this change would be nearly doubling the vaping tax, a move which has received plenty of pushback from Republican lawmakers in the state. At the same time, public health groups support the move, arguing that raising the tax makes it harder for teens to get vaporizers. Only time will tell what this new regulation means for the state, but experts believe this could be an indication of larger battles on the horizon for the rest of us as well.
Another Misguided Plan
Legislators in Maine are currently deep in talks to raise the vaping excise tax across the state. While the tax has been passed by a legislative committee, it still needs to be signed by Gov. Janet Mills to become law. Experts are unsure if she’ll sign the bill, as she said she wouldn’t raise any taxes in her first two years, but many debate if this measure meets her criteria for a “tax increase.” If passed, it would increase the vaping tax from 20% to 43%, matching it with tobacco taxes in the state. Some say this is the ideal situation, but others argue treating vaping this way actually gives a distinct advantage to Big Tobacco, with smokers no longer see as much of a reason to switch, and even some vapers reverting to smoking.
Democrats in the state are far more concerned with increased tax revenue than they are with improving the health of smokers. While not harmless, vaping has been proven to be an effective harm reduction and smoking cessation tool. Regardless, this new tax in Maine could be a significant blow to not only vapers but also business owners. So while the supporters claim this move is meant to protect the youth, it’s very evident they’re more worried about tax dollars.
Evidence For E-Cigarettes
You don’t have to look very hard to find a ton of evidence supporting the value of vaping these days. In fact, all the way back in 2015 we got our first large scale report which concluded vaping is at least 95% safer than continued smoking. That report by Public Health England was one of the first, but it sure wasn’t the last. In fact, just a few months back a team of researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute published a report which found the toxicants in smoke are 93% higher than e-liquid vapor. Even more impressively, a report from the Journal of Aerosol Sciences concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is around 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker.
That’s just the general harm reduction value. Looking deeper, we have plenty of evidence supporting the smoking cessation value of vaping as well. In fact, a report from the University of Louisville concluded that not only is vaping a useful smoking cessation tool, but it may actually be more effective than anything else. We even have reason to believe vaping isn’t attracting teens as much as the media would have you believe. A report of over 60,000 teens from Action on Smoking and Health found only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are vaping more than once or twice.
We must push back now if we ever want to secure and protect our vaping rights. Despite a growing pile of evidence, legislators across the country continue to push for more restrictive vaping policies. Maine is just the latest to equate vaping and smoking in this way, and they surely won’t be the last. So it’s up to us to spread the good word about vaping to the smokers in our lives. After all, if you don’t understand everything e-cigarettes have to offer, why ever even trying to switch?
Do you think vaping laws like this are a big problem? What’s the most important thing to teach others about e-cigarettes? How can we best spread the word about 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.