The Governor of Rhode Island is pushing an 80% vaping tax for the second year in a row
It is far from unusual for legislatures to look for more state funding by raising taxes on vaping. Many states across the country claim to need excessive taxes on vapes and vaping products sold. While it is true that these taxes have been successful at raising funds for the states involved, many of the excessive fees have pushed vape shops to close their doors. This will ultimately decrease the revenue states actually see over time, as more vapers go out of state or online to purchase their products.
Despite this, Rhode Island Governor, Gina Raimondo, has proposed an astronomical tax of 80% in an effort to generate more funds. This is actually the second year in a row Raimondo has recommended the 80% tax on all vaping products sold within the state. She hopes the proposed tax would help the states increasing budgetary concerns. If this insane tax is passed, then it won’t take long before their independent vaping industry is unrecognizable.
The Potential Tax
Earlier this year a hearing of the Rhode Island House Finance Committee was delayed due to weather conditions. The hearing was being held to decide whether vaporizers and accessories should be labeled under state law as “other tobacco products.” Since the postponement occurred, not much has been said about the matter. The silver lining to that is that there is still time for people’s voices to be heard on the matter.
The CASAA, or Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association is urging vapers from around the country, but specifically, Rhode Island, to send letters, make calls, and let their feelings on the matter be known to their legislators. Jeff Stier, the Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center, issued an open letter to the committee to voice his opinion:
This attempt to create additional tax revenue does not justify the negative ramifications it will have for your constituents. An excise tax on lower-risk alternatives to combustible cigarettes would make it harder for your constituents to quit smoking. But this 80% tax proposal is particularly unwise as it would guarantee an expansion of the black market, encourage consumers to purchase e-cigarettes out of state, while harming responsible businesses in your community.
Vaping Taxes in Other States
Back in 2016, Pennsylvania was the first state to try getting money into their budget by placing high taxes on vaping products. PA placed a 40% tax on vapes and accessories, which in the first year yielded them $13 million in tax revenue. It also correlated directly with the closing of over 100 independently owned vape shops across the state, which equates to over a quarter of the shops open before the tax was imposed.
Pennsylvania may be an established example, but many other states have flirted with the idea of raising taxes much more. In Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy suggested a 75% tax on vaping products in an attempt to help the states financial concerns. While experts don’t expect these egregious rates to pass, it’s still worrisome to have governments keeping them on the table. These legislatures are looking at these products with very short-sighted views that could be detrimental to hundreds or even thousands of law-abiding small businesses.
One of the more significant problems with these types of legislation goes past simple infringing on people’s rights, or even causing significant disadvantages for businesses owners; it has much more to do with how this type of legislation frames people’s views on vaping. By grouping vaping products in with tobacco products these government bodies are telling their people one is just as bad as the other. This sends the message to smokers that it isn’t worth it to quit because the alternatives are just as bad.
This image is patently untrue. Vaping is nowhere near as dangerous as smoking, even though it may not be 100% harmless. Research has shown that the lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is more than 57,000 times less than a smoker’s. Vaping is one of the best harm reduction tools currently available, and the most successful cessation tool as well. It’s extremely detrimental for the public’s health if the government continues to say that it isn’t worth the switch. The bottom line is that compared to smoking, vaping is the obvious choice.
Have vaping taxes had an impact on where you live yet? Should we be trying to make the distinction between vaping and smoking clearer? What do you think is the best way to push back on new vaping regulations? 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.