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Hawaii – Stop a Tax on Vaping [ENDED]

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02.10.23 -Bill scheduled to be heard by JHA on Tuesday, 02-14-23 2:00PM in House conference room 325 VIA VIDEOCONFERENCE.

02.02.23 – The committee on CPC recommend that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes were as follows: 7 Ayes: Representative(s) Sayama, Hussey-Burdick, Gates, Lowen, Onishi, Tam; Ayes with reservations: Representative(s) Pierick; Noes: none; and 4 Excused: Representative(s) Nakashima, Amato, Belatti, Hashem.

01.30.23 – Scheduled to be heard in CPC on 02.02.23, 2:00PM (HST), Rm 329 via Videoconference.

01.27.23 – Referred to Committees: CPC, JHA, FIN

01.23.23 – Introduced in House and passed first reading

Following a hearing in the House CPC committee that involved a few changes to HB 537, the bill would subject vapor products to an unspecified wholesale tax on tobacco products (that aren’t cigarettes) and take effect in the year 3000.

This bill is scheduled for another hearing on Tuesday, February 14, 2023

  • House Committee on Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs (JHA)
  • 2:00 PM (HST)
  • Conference room 325 & via Videoconference

Hawai’i residents are encouraged to make contact with committee members and urge them to oppose HB 537. Written testimony is due 24 hours prior to the hearing (see “How to Take Action” for details).

    • Comment directly on the legislation via the bill page.
      • If you don’t already have one, set up a free account with the legislature’s website by clicking on “Register” at the top of a bill page.
      • Click the “Submit Testimony” button at the top of each bill page. You will be taken to an instructions/look-up page. Enter “hb537” in the field provided, click “continue” next to the bill number, and fill out the submission form. You can write your comments in the field provided or upload pre-written testimony. (Talking points are provided below if you need some ideas.)
  • Written testimony is due 24 hours prior to the hearings.
  • Sign up to speak (requires submission of written testimony) following the same instructions above for submitting testimony.
  • State that you are opposed to HB 537 and any legislation that would make safer alternatives to smoking less affordable.
  • Share your experience with switching to vapor products. If affordability compared to continuing to smoke was a motivating factor for trying vaping or other smoke-free products, be sure to include that in your comments. Conversely, if the already high initial cost of these products delayed your first purchase, highlight this instead. Be sure to include any changes in your health that you’ve experienced as a result of switching to safer nicotine or tobacco products.
  • Taxes on traditional cigarettes are intended to discourage use. But, e-cigarettes and other smoke-free tobacco products are estimated to be 98 – 99% less harmful than smoking, discouraging use is counter to the goals of reducing smoking rates.
  • Research shows that increasing taxes on smoke-free alternatives (like vaping) reduces quit attempts and quitting. Economists at the University of Georgia recently published an analysis of a proposed federal tax on vaping and concluded that “the unintended effects of ENDS taxation may considerably undercut or even outweigh any public health gains.”
  • Other governments are taking exactly the opposite approach. Public Health England (the government public health agency) explicitly endorses a policy of encouraging people who smoke to switch to e-cigarettes and vapor products.
  • Sin taxes are regressive. People who smoke and those who switch to vaping and other smoke-free alternatives are disproportionately poor and low income people. Sin taxes place unnecessary burdens on an already financially challenged group. To make matters worse, people in the low-income bracket are less likely to be insured and lack access to health care providers. The affordable resources available to these people have low success rates.
  • Sin taxes on safer nicotine products sends a confusing and inaccurate message to would-be adopters that combustible and smoke-free products present similar risks. The result of this message is that more people, those who otherwise would have switched to a smoke-free product, will be encouraged to continue smoking.

Hearing Notice - 02.14.23

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