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Louisiana – Stop a Vape Tax (HB 635)
HB 635 started out as a proposal to tax e-liquid at 5c/mL, but quickly turned into a product registry bill (at the behest of cigarette companies) with a 15c/mL tax on e-liquid. This was ultimately the proposal signed by the governor and it took effect on July 1, 2023.
- State that you are opposed to HB 635 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.