Since the day it first opened, Vape Joint has been an iconic place for ecig fans to gather in Washington DC. But that’s all changing now thanks to an outrageous new tax on ecigarettes. Co-owner Erik Miller said the shop was permanently closing the doors to customers because they just couldn’t afford to continue with the outrageous 67 percent tax on ecigs.
“We ran the numbers and it just didn’t make sense to stay open,” he said. “We would have had to invest in other products. It’s not like we were making a ton of money. We didn’t want to risk it.”
DC lawmakers not only voted for a steep new tax on ecigarettes, but they also classified ecigs as tobacco products, leading to widespread bans across the city. Lawmakers justified the decision by claiming it would bring in an extra $380,000 in tax revenue each year. Of course, they never mentioned the fact that it would destroy a lot of DC’s booming small businesses and cost many people their jobs.
For the handful of ecig shops that aren’t closing the doors, the new tax means expanding the business to include other products. Sean Robinson owns another popular ecigarette store in the city and he said they are now selling pipes and glassware just to try to stay in business. Robinsons said the new tax is unfortunate because it makes ecigs less accessible to the people who need them most. “My whole goal in opening the store is to get people to stop smoking,” he explained. “The 67 percent tax is really debilitating for business. We’re basically just trying to survive. I believe that people of lower socio-economic backgrounds deserve the same opportunity to quit. That’s why I opened my store where I did.”
Robinson fears the shop in DC won’t be able to stay open long-term so he is currently shifting his focus to opening a brand new ecig store in District Heights, Maryland. “It’s definitely designed to absorb the loss from the tax,” he said of his decision to move business out of DC.
It’s unfortunate to see greedy lawmakers attack ecig shops that are only trying to help local smokers kick the habit. This new tax has done major damage to the ecig industry in Washington DC and it has left many ecigarette fans in other regions worried that the same thing could happen in their neighborhoods.