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RHODE ISLAND – Stop a Vape Tax (H7225)
A provision in a must-pass budget bill (H 7225) in Rhode Island would tax vapor products at an outrageous 80% of wholesale price. This provision would also codify the Rhode Island Health Department’s ban on flavored products. While increasing taxes on cigarettes are shown to have an effect on people quitting smoking, raising taxes on safer products like vaping are known to discourage people from switching to less risky products.
H.7225, Article 6, Sections 16-20 are scheduled for a hearing on
- Tuesday, March 5, 2024
- Time: Rise of the House (approximately 4:30 PM)
- State House, Room 35
- Rhode Island advocates are encouraged to submit written comments on this proposal by sending you comments in an email to HouseFinance@rilegilsature.gov. Testimony must be submitted by Noon on March 5.
Advocates are also encouraged to attend this hearing. If you would like to speak on the bill, a sign up sheet should be available one to two hours prior to the hearing. Even if you do not plan to speak, your presence is important as it demonstrates how many people are affected by this proposal.
Prior to the hearing, please take a moment to send a message to your Rhode Island Representative urging them to oppose H 7225, Article 6, Section 16.
- State that you are opposed to H 7225, Section 16 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.