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Minnesota – Stop a Vapor Tax! (No HF 991)
HF 991 would impose a 35% retail tax on vapor products (liquid and devices) and devices used with heated tobacco (“heat-not-burn”).
- A public hearing is scheduled for
Thursday, February 18, 2021 , 1:00 PM
House Taxes Committee
Remote Hearing (see details below)
Testimony and Requests to Speak must be submitted by Wednesday, 2/17, 5:00 PM
Holding the title as the first US state to implement a tax on vaping, Minnesota has also provided early data on how effective (or ineffective) extra taxes on smoke-free alternatives can be. According to a study authored by economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Minnesota’s 95% wholesale tax on nicotine discouraged more than 32,000 people from switching away from smoking. In other words, Minnesota’s existing tax–just on nicotine–is already protecting sales of cigarettes by making switching to vaping more expensive. Adding a 35% charge at retail will only make this situation worse by keeping Minnesota’s vapor tax one of the highest (and most harmful) in the country.
If you are interested in providing written or oral testimony
- Please contact the committee administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 5:00 pm, Wednesday, Feb. 17.
- For those who wish to testify, the chair strongly encourages written testimony so that members can use it as a resource throughout the session.
This remote hearing may be viewed via the MN House webcast schedule page.
- NOTE: HTV1 and HTV2 will provide live closed captioning.
Video archives of meetings streamed on HTV 3, 4, and 5 will have closed captions added.
- Other reasonable accessibility accommodations may be made with advance notice.
If you have questions about the accessibility of remote hearings or require an accommodation please contact:
- Jenny Nash
- Voice Mail: 651-296-4122.
- Please do not contact her with questions about the substance of the agenda.
Take Action Now!
Minnesota Residents ONLY!
Email addresses for committee members are provided below. This engagement cannot be automated due to lawmakers restricting communications to constituents only (in spite of the fact that small committees make decisions that affect the entire state).
Minnesota residents are encouraged to submit written testimony and request to speak at the hearing. If you are unable to attend the hearing or submit testimony, please take a moment to contact members of the Taxes committee and urge them to reject HF 991.
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- State that you are opposed to HF 991 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.
- Other governments are taking the exact opposite approach. Public Health England (the government public health agency) recently explicitly endorsed a policy of encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes and vapor products (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update).
- 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.
- Imposing a tax on these products will drive consumers to shop in neighboring states that do not have a similar tax. Concurrently, consumers will be encouraged to shop online for better deals, sending even more money out of the community. Local businesses will not be able to compete, be forced to close their doors, and jobs will be lost. This is bad for the state and will result in less revenue, not more.
- It is important to note that vapor products are already subject to a general sales tax.
- Taxing smoke-free tobacco and nicotine products in a manner similar to how combustible tobacco products are taxed sends a confusing and inaccurate message to would-be adopters that these two very different products present similar risks. The result of this message is that more people, those that otherwise would have switched to a smoke-free product, will be encouraged to continue smoking.
Members of the House Taxes Committee,
I am writing as a voter, taxpayer in Minnesota urging you to reject the 35% retail tax on vapor products and so called “heat devices” that would be imposed byHF 991. This additional tax on vaping is unjustifiable and would negatively affect my access to low-risk, smoke-free products. It does not make sense that Minnesota would want to make it more difficult for people who smoke to switch to demonstrably safer alternatives to cigarettes. Subjecting smoke-free vapor products to a sin tax is punitive and discourages people from switching to safer nicotine products.
Minnesota’s existing 95% tax on nicotine is already protecting sales of traditional cigarettes and encouraging people who smoke to keep smoking. This is counter to modern advice from The Royal College of Physicians (a 500-year old professional organization which is one of the most respected in the world) which recently recommended promoting vapor products widely to smokers as an alternative to combusted cigarettes.
Minnesota should be promoting innovative products–like vapor products and “heat-not-burn”–that advance the public health goal of reducing the early death and disease attributed to smoking. There is overwhelming evidence–ranging from systematic studies to thousands of detailed testimonials–showing that smoke-free vapor and tobacco products help people who smoke to quit or reduce their smoking habit, even after they have unsuccessfully tried every other method. The 35% retail tax proposed by HF 991 punishes people for making better health choices.
I along with my fellow members of The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) urge you to resist calls for increased taxes and overregulation from misguided activists that seek to impede adult access to far less hazardous alternatives to smoking. I look forward to your response on this issue and I am available for any questions you might have.
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