Taxing ecigs like fags is the trend that many lawmakers and public officials such as in New Jersey and Ohio are now wholeheartedly promoting. In these two US states, respective conservative Republican governors have put forth new taxes that have not yet appealed to the traditionally tax-hungry state law-making bodies such as in Washington and Massachusetts.
Sin Tax On Electronic Cigarettes
Ohio governor John Kasich and NJ governor Chris Christies both want to impose excise tax on ecigarettes. Both their goals are taxing ecigs like fags.
If there is anything to be blamed at all, it would probably be the name of the devices that first and foremost placed them at very inconvenient position. The name electronic cigarette is misleading because they are not cigarettes at all.
They are battery-operated, not lighted by matches or lighters. They produce no smoke and they contain no tobacco. The devices are currently taxed only like other ordinary consumer products.
NJ Ecig Taxation Plan
It was announced by Governor Christie last spring although he did not really specify the rate at which the devices will be taxed. Nevertheless, his state Treasury Department has already estimated that $35 million will be collected in revenue if the plan is enacted.
Furthermore, the Christie administration also refused to admit that it is a tax hike, but only a means to put cigarettes and ecigarettes on a similar playing field. In NJ, combustible cigarettes are now taxed at $2.7 per pack. Sadly, if this is pushed through, the cigarette market will be protected from the competition.
This measure has receved support from two liberal Democratic senators who, according to Jeff Stier and Greg Conley, were so inspired by Christie’s initiative that they also came up with their own bill proposing 75% tax on the wholesale price of the products.
Stier is a National Center for Public Policy Research (Washington, DC) senior fellow. Conley is a Heartland Institute (Chicago) research fellow.
Ecig Taxation Plan In Ohio
Governor Kasich’s plan is somehow different because it intends to raise the state tax on cigarette packs from $1.25 to $1.85 and tax electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco at 49% on wholesale price over the period of two years.
Kasich administration claims that this plan will be bringing in $850 million in the public coffers in three years time. Thus, the state will be able to cut income taxes for all brackets.
Stier and Conley stated in their article that ecigarettes can be more beneficial to public health than getting smokers to quit via high taxes, graphic warning labels, or even ‘self-righteous taxpayer-funded ad campaign’ could do or has done. Conley and Stier said they both wonder why the two governors are proactively seeking to undermine and tax the products.
Nothing To Do With Public Health
They said that the governors’ plans have nothing to do with the health of the public, but with another type and form of addiction. They said that state governments are more addicted to cigarettes than smokers are addicted to them.
Some smokers could somehow manage to quit smoking. Yet, state governments simply could not quit the urge to tax tobacco. Now that smokers are able to find new hope on quitting smoking trough ecigs, state budget people want to have a new source of income in order to recover lost taxes from declining cigarette sales. What the governors and other lawmakers pushing onerous ecig taxes want is for smoker to pay high if they want to quit the habit.
Bad Sin Taxes
Stier and Conley explained that sin taxes are not great ideas at all. If they ever exist, they need to have a structure accurately reflecting the risks of using ecigarettes.
For decades, sin taxes have been imposed based on justification that smokers must pay for the incurred costs for smoking related illnesses’ treatments. Electronic cigarettes help people drop the habit so the health care costs are reduced. Additional ecig taxes are not justified.
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