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Washington – Stop a Vapor Tax!

current status

Bill
Introduced

Passed
House

Passed
Senate

Signed by
Governor

02/02/21 – Public Hearing (Commerce & Gaming)

01/21/21 – Introduced and referred to Cmte. on Commerce and Gaming

HB 1345, which previously would have banned flavors other than tobacco, is being substituted with a 2% cap on nicotine content and a 45% retail tax. In addition to accelerating the closure of vape shops across the state, HB 1345 would make vaping less affordable for people who want to quit smoking and reduce their chances of switching completely, even if they are able to afford the new tax.

This bill may be called up in an executive session of the Commerce and Gaming Committee on Monday. This is not a public hearing, so the only opportunity that consumers have to make their voices heard before this action is today.

  • 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, and discouraging their 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 smokers 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.
  • 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 pressured 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.

Read Full Bill Text

Comment on the bill

Commerce and Gaming Committee Page

Take Action Now!

Washington 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).

Copy/paste the list into the “to” section of your email.

  • Shelley.kloba@leg.wa.gov, Emily.wicks@leg.wa.gov, Drew.macewen@leg.wa.gov, Eric.robertson@leg.wa.gov, Kelly.chambers@leg.wa.gov, Steve.kirby@leg.wa.gov, Melanie.morgan@leg.wa.gov, Brandon.vick@leg.wa.gov, Sharon.wylie@leg.wa.gov

Your subject line needs to be

  • “Reject HB 1345” or “Oppose HB 1345.”

Salutation:

  • Dear Committee Members,

Body:

  • State that you are opposed to HB 1345.
  • Feel free to add your story noting any changes in health you’ve experienced since switching to vaping.
  • Make sure you include where in Washington you live (preferably you are including your address, but, at the very least, your city/town should be fine).
  • Be brief, be kind, and say thank you 🙂

Also make sure to Join CASAA!

Membership is FREE and we’ll keep you up to date on what’s going on in your state and how you can get involved.