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Montgomery Co., MD – [Concluded] Stop a Vapor Tax Hike!
Montgomery County, Maryland is moving forward with a proposal to double its excise tax on vapor products. If enacted, the new tax would be 60% of wholesale, doubling the current tax of 30%.
The public hearing is scheduled for
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Remote Testimony Only
While tobacco control activists point to research showing that increases in cigarette taxes reduce smoking prevalence, the same cannot be said for raising taxes on smoke-free products, like e-cigarettes. Indeed, research published within the past year concluded that Minnesota’s 95% wholesale tax on nicotine not only failed to keep young people from buying products from informal sources, but it discouraged more than 30,000 adults from quitting smoking.
Proponents of anti-nicotine tax policy claim that the regulation protects public health, but the data show otherwise. Montgomery County Council members are proposing to double down on an already bad policy. As the saying goes, “you can’t fight fire with fire.”
- State that you are opposed to raising the excise tax on electronic cigarettes 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 exactly the opposite approach. Public Health England (the government public health agency) recently explicitly endorsed 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.
- It is important to note that, at the local level, vapor products may already be subject to a general sales tax. The tax being proposed by HB 110 would be in addition to any extra local taxes on vapor products.
- 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.