Paul Blair

ATR Opposes Massive New Excise Tax on Vapor Products in Washington State

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Paul Blair on Thursday, June 25th, 2015, 2:11 PM PERMALINK


In a letter to legislators in Washington, Americans for Tax Reform reminded members of the House Finance Committee of the potential consequences of raising taxes on electronic cigarettes and vapor products. Now into their second special session on the budget, legislators are scrambling to tie up loose ends to fund their overspending problem.

Click here for a PDF of the letter. 

This afternoon, behind closed doors, legislators will debate House Bill 2211, which includes a new 60 percent tax on the wholesale cost of e-cigarettes and vapor products sold in Washington. The threat of this tax has already forced a medium-sized company that employs more than 100 Washington residents to begin its relocation to Arizona.

“These bills are a clear existential threat to our business,” Mt. Baker Vapor explained. “Even if the bills did fail, Governor Inslee has another year left in office and has made it clear that he will continue tormenting our industry.”

The vaping industry and the consumers who are using the products have been a top target for state lawmakers since the products began gaining popularly among smokers looking for an effective way to quit with a healthier alternative product.

Electronic cigarettes and vapor products don’t contain the tar or countless carcinogens that can produce cancer, illness, and disease. Where some see a new technology that is helping people quit smoking, cash-hungry politicians like Gov. Inslee and his legislative allies in Washington see a new target to tax.

The letter to the House Finance Committee from ATR president Grover Norquist can be read below:

Dear Representative,

I write today in opposition to House Bill 2211, which would impose a 60 percent tax on e-cigarettes and vapor products sold in Washington. Not only is this a massive tax increase that will hurt small businesses in Washington, but to impose a massive tax on vapor products makes little sense from a health perspective as well.

This 60 percent tax will make Washington extremely uncompetitive in e-cigarette and vapor product pricing, leading to an increase in online purchasing. E-cigarettes will prove to be an extremely volatile source that costs in-state businesses tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales, resulting in even less revenue for the state government. 

The threat of onerous taxation on vapor products and businesses has already resulted in the announcement that Mount Baker Vapor, which employs more than 100 Washington residents, will be relocating to Arizona this year. The income, property, and sales taxes generated by this medium-sized company will no longer be collected in Washington as a result of legislative threats like HB 2211.

Taking aim at e-cigarettes with higher taxes works at cross-purposes with efforts to cut down on the harm associated with smoking. Mitch Zeller, Director of the Center for Tobacco Products at FDA has recognized this reality. He recently noted, “If we could get all of those people to completely switch all of their cigarettes to one of these non-combustible products, that would be good for public health.” 

A number of studies have shown that electronic cigarettes stand to improve health and prevent disease. By choosing to “vape” e-cigs instead of smoking traditional tobacco, consumers get their nicotine fix without the combustion and smoke, which are responsible for many of the negative health effects of tobacco cigarettes.

With e-cigarettes, the free market has provided a solution to a problem that social engineers have not been able to address through stiff government regulations. The imposition of new taxes on innovative products that reduce smoking and people’s dependence on tobacco cigarettes is misguided and will impede proven harm reduction methods. It makes little sense in this fragile economy to impose hundreds of thousands of dollars in higher taxes on a product that provides consumers a viable and harmless alternative to traditional tobacco products.  

I would urge you to reject House Bill 2211 in its present form and in any form that imposes an excise tax on e-cigarettes and vapor products. Not only will the tax yield insignificant revenue for the state, it will keep smokers from transitioning to a far healthier alternative. While this might protect state cigarette tax revenue, it will continue to impact state health care costs in a far more detrimental way. 

Support our efforts to fight e-cigarette and vapor tax hikes by clicking here. 

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Chris

That's a great letter from the boss. ATR has been doing an amazing job standing up for both small vapor products businesses, and tobacco harm reduction. It's much appreciated by this small vapor products business owner.


Florida Governor Rick Scott Cuts Spending and Taxes in 2015

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, June 24th, 2015, 3:12 PM PERMALINK


This week, Governor Rick Scott (R-Fla.) signed a 78.2 billion budget that included a historic $461.4 million in line item spending cuts, among the largest cuts ever made by a governor. This comes on the heels of a $429 million tax cut package, which he signed just last week.

Taxpayers have a friend in Gov. Scott, who said this of his cuts: “I went through the budget looking at every project and saying: What’s a statewide priority? Can I get a good return on investment? Has it gone through a state process?”

In his letter to the legislature, he explained why he line item vetoed specific projects by noting:

“Tax revenue is generated by Floridians who are working hard to provide for their families and we are committed to effectively using these dollars by investing them in areas with proven results. That is why I have vetoed $461.1 million in special projects.”

Below is a list of several special spending projects inserted into the budget by lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat alike:  

  • $300,000 for a water taxi on Clearwater Beach
  • $1 million for the restoration of a marina in Pahokee
  • $1 million to expand a library in Palm Harbor
  • $5 million for “strategic land acquisition”
  • $250,000 for the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American studies, which already received $600,000 for two prior reports
  • $1.5 million for Teach for America
  • $260,000 for the Therapeutic Performing Arts Therapy program
  • $140,000 for “Nature’s Paradise”
  • $500,000 for a children’s “ability center”
  • $5.5 million for no-bid contracts for wetland/chemical treatment systems and two floating aquatic vegetative tilling treatment systems
  • $550,000 for “promotional awards” at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services”
  • $2 million for a horse park
  • $250,000 for the Arcadia Rodeo
  • $10 million in “Quiet Zone” improvements
  • $500,000 in media campaigns to publicize the dangers of unlicensed real estate activity
  • $500,000 for the Circus Arts Conservatory
  • $500,000 for the relocation of the Miami Boat Show
  • $61,366 for the a Plant Museum in Tampa
  • $200,000 for a contemporary dance company in Miami

 

A health insurer also tried to pass on the costs of federal Obamacare taxes onto state taxpayers. Rick Scott put a stop to $136,000 in that expenditure and hundreds of thousands in tax dollars intended to fund electronic medical record systems for private organizations.

The governor also vetoed millions of dollars in local water treatment and improvement projects; expenditures the governor rightly argues must meet a statewide investment benefit.

At the conclusion of his letter, Scott again voluntarily reduced his state-funded salary to one cent per month.

For Republican governors looking for role models, one needs to look no further than the Sunshine State where a beacon of hope remains. Transparency remains an effective disinfectant for out-of-control spending and Scott’s vetoes send an effective message to legislators, even in years where the state has a surplus: taxpayers will not be swindled by back-room budget deals; the governor is watching. 

Click here for the full list of vetoes. 

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Keith Allsop

He is in CT poaching jobs LOL. CT democrats - no tax increase left behind.


Florida Legislature Overwhelmingly Passes Tax Cuts in Special Session

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, June 16th, 2015, 11:04 AM PERMALINK


Monday, the Florida Legislature passed a $429-million tax-cut package that among other things will lower cell phone and cable taxes for Florida taxpayers. Though a debate over Medicaid expansion and proposals on higher health care spending resulted in a special budget session, the tax relief package passed the Senate by a vote of 34-2 and the House by a margin of 91-2.

Governor Rick Scott pushed for nearly $700 million in tax cuts this year with his “Keep Florida Working” annual budget, but he applauded the legislature’s smaller plan in a statement yesterday afternoon:

“Florida’s budget had an over $1 billion budget surplus this year because of the hard work of Floridians, and this tax cut package will send more than $400 million back to the people who earned it. I applaud the Florida House and the Florida Senate for their work on this legislation and I look forward to working with them to keep cutting taxes next year and to keep Florida working.”

The largest component of the tax package involved a reduction of the Communications Services Tax (CST). Currently, Florida has the fourth highest CST rate in the country with a total tax bite of 22.38 percent when you consider all levels of government that tax wireless services (including federal).

Communication services like cell phones and satellite television are subjected to a myriad of taxes, including a state tax and gross receipts tax, local communications services taxes, 911 operator fees, and a federal Universal Services Fund tax.

The CST cut passed by the legislature will permanently reduce the state portion of cell phone and satellite taxes by 0.9 percent to 5.75 percent on cell phones and to 9.9 percent on direct-to-home satellite services. It also temporarily reduces both taxes by another 0.9 percent through 2017.

Gov. Scott sought a permanent 3.6 percent CST reduction and the legislature met him half way, at least for two years.

Sens. Clemens (SD-27) and Thompson (SD-12) and Reps. Artiles (HD-118) and Pafford (HD-86) were the only legislators to vote against the package, which received 125 yeas to 4 nays.

The bill doesn’t only lower a $100 cell phone bill by $1.73 a month; it includes a number of other smaller tax cuts and exemptions as well.

  • New 10 day back-to-school sales tax holiday
  • Exempts college textbooks from the sales tax for one year
  • Adds irrigation equipment to a list of farm supplies that are exempt from sales tax
  • Exempts gun club memberships from the sales tax permanently
  • Caps boat repair taxes at $60,000
  • Exempts food and drinks sold by school support organizations like booster clubs from the sales tax after they’ve been purchased, before resale
  • Increases corporate income tax credits for one year for companies who clean up the Brownfields (polluted area of land)
  • Corporate income tax credits of up to 10 percent for R&D
  • Sales tax exemption for aviation fuel at flight schools and colleges
  • Prolongs life of Florida Enterprise Zones, which were set to expire this year, by 3 more years

 

The governor is expected to sign the $429 million tax relief package this week, bringing the total size of tax cuts signed by Gov. Rick Scott to more than $2.6 billion.

Photo Credit: 
Mike McBride, Flickr

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Leo Shaffer

its a start, thank you Govna and state gov. we need more relief for property owners . IE less forced public services PENSIONS as well as school bureaucracies.


Anti-Business Governor Jay Inslee Forces Emerging New Vapor Business to Relocate from Washington to Arizona

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015, 5:09 PM PERMALINK


Mount Baker Vapor, an electronic cigarette and vapor product business based in Bellingham, Washington announced today that they would be relocating their business operations to Mesa, Arizona “due to legislative pressure.”

In their announcement they explain, “Legislative pressure from Washington State has made it clear that they no longer offer a suitable environment for a growing business in the vaping industry.”

That pressure has come in the form of proposal to ban online sales and the imposition of astronomical taxes ranging as high as 95 percent, both proposals from Democrat Governor Jay Inslee.

“These bills are a clear existential threat to our business,” they explain. “Even if the bills did fail, Governor Inslee has another year left in office and has made it clear that he will continue tormenting our industry.”

The vaping industry and the consumers who are using the products have been a top target for state lawmakers since the products began gaining popularly among smokers looking for an effective way to quit with a healthier alternative product.

Electronic cigarettes and vapor products don’t contain the tar or countless carcinogens that can produce cancer, illness, and disease. Where some see a new technology that is helping people quit smoking, cash-hungry politicians like Gov. Inslee in Washington see a new target to tax.

Click here for a map of where threats of higher taxes on e-cigarettes stand in the states.

An analyst for Wells Fargo estimates that e-cigarette sales will top $10 billion by 2017 and could overtake combustible cigarettes within a decade. Among those looking to prevent that growth are politicians like Gov. Inslee and bureaucrats at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Click here to read more about the FDA and e-cigarettes.

Arizona is far friendlier to businesses than states like Washington. Governor Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) ran for office on the platform of significantly reducing the income tax. He’s rejected Nanny-State proposals like plastic bag bans and cut spending by hundreds of millions of dollars in just one year.

“I want Arizona to be the best state in the country to work and do business,” Ducey remarked in March.

Mt. Baker Vapor’s move to Arizona makes it clear that businesses looking to escape high taxation and unnecessary regulations have a friend in Gov. Ducey and the state of Arizona. NJOY, another company that produces and sells e-cigarettes and vapor products is also headquartered in Arizona. 

Though a Democrat lawmaker from Arizona proposed imposing sin taxes on e-cigarettes this year, the bill got no traction, didn’t come up for a vote, and garnered no support from the governor.

Mt. Baker Vapor employs more than 100 people in Washington and expects to be fully operational in Arizona later this year. 

Might Arizona become the Silicon Valley for electronic cigarette companies looking to relocate to more business friendly states? Only time will tell. 

Photo Credit: 
Center for American Progress

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Tom Blackwell

Washington State, where it is perfectly legal to sell a sack of weed but if you sell eliquid you get ran out of town.

Basher#52

Well you know why the state is doing this right? in 98' the 4 largest tobacco companies made an agreement with all the state gov.'s to pay them a percentage of Cig money based on the percentage of smokers in their particular state. This is Called the MSA, or Master Settlement Agreement. California and Washington, being the genius states that we are, decided that since we had all this extra income, each state would sell 300 million dollars worth of state bonds, which they assumed they could back by cig tax money. And they did. In 2012, Washington and Cali were able to pay off all the state bonds they sold to the public using money from tobacco sales. So what do they do next? Sell another 300 million dollars in state bonds. Notice which two states are at the front leading the charge against vaping? Only now in 2015, Cig sales are slowing [slightly] due to vaporizers and e-cigs, but the states still need their cig tax money, so they attack the vaping industry and hope it dies and they get their cig tax money back, or it pulls through and they now get a tax counter balance to the loss in cig sales. Cali takes it one step further- The money that they are using to fund their state promoted anti vaping campaigns comes directly from the tax money they are getting from big tobacco. They are DIRECTLY taking tobacco money, as a state, to fund anti vaping propaganda. Thank you Gov, for pushing cigarettes onto your population for money.

Basher#52

Glad to know the industry has your support! I'm one of the wholesale reps for Mt Baker Vapor, and will be losing my job when the company moves because I cannot go with them. Cannot express enough how angry I am with Inslee.


Nevada Legislature Vetoes Voters and Passes Largest Tax Hike in State History


Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, June 1st, 2015, 6:37 PM PERMALINK


Last night, by a vote of 30-10, the Nevada state Assembly joined the Senate in approving a $1.5 billion tax hike over the next two years. Governor Sandoval sought at least $1.1 billion in new revenue to fund the expansion of Medicaid, higher education spending, and corporate handouts to companies like Tesla immediately after winning re-election last year. The legislature gave him even more than he asked for when the Senate sent him the tax hike bill this afternoon. 

When the question of whether Nevada should impose a margins tax on businesses in the state to fund increased education spending was put before Nevada voters last year, they rejected the “Education Initiative” by an 80-20 margin.

The margins tax, if approved, will jeopardize Nevada’s recovery,” Gov. Sandoval said last year when he too opposed one of the worst elements of this year’s budget bill.

Gov. Sandoval told voters that he opposed tax hikes so that he could get re-elected. Unfortunately, the legislature let him get away with it.

Here’s a list of the tax hikes:

  • Higher state business license fee
  • Higher payroll/modified business tax
  • Higher payroll/modified business tax; even higher on mining
  • New “Uber” tax on ride-sharing customers
  • New tax on taxis and limousines
  • Higher Live Entertainment Tax on auto racing and concerts
  • A 125% increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes
  • Higher tax on elk hunters car owners (registration fee)
  • Higher sales tax

 

Every Democrat in the Assembly and the following Republicans voted for the largest tax hike in Nevada history: John Hambrick (violated the Taxpayer Protection Pledge with yes vote), James OscarsonDavid Gardner, Erv Nelson, P.K  O’Neill, Steven SilberkrausDerek Armstrong, Glenn Trowbridge

None of them ran on raising taxes last year. All of them were elected and re-elected on false pretenses.

Assembly Republicans who voted against the tax hike included: Michele Fiore, Victoria Seaman, Brent Jones, Ira Hansen, Jill Dickman, Chris Edwards, Shelly Shelton, Robin Titus, Jim Wheeler and John Ellison. Senate Republicans who opposed the final bill included: Pete Goicoechea, James Settelmeyer, and Don Gustavson. 

"The leadership of both houses should be ashamed of themselves for forcing through the largest tax increase in history," said Sen. Gustavson of the vote. 

ATR applauds those legislators who opposed Sandoval's proposals and thanks them for standing with taxpayers by voting no. 

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments


ATR Supports Rep. Tom Cole’s FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2015


Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, May 19th, 2015, 3:21 PM PERMALINK


Congressman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) recently introduced H.R. 2058, the “FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2015.” This legislation would prevent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from banning tobacco products (like cigars) and 99 percent of the innovative vapor and electronic cigarette products that have hit the market since 2007.

The FDA is finalizing a regulatory framework for premium cigars and vapor products that stands to require pre-market approval for all products that have hit the market since February 15, 2007. Any product on the market prior to that date would largely be exempt and any product that has hit the market since then would be given two years to apply for approval.

H.R. 2058 moves up the 2007 date to the date of the announced “deeming regulation,” which is likely to occur later this year. This would permit products that have hit the market since 2007 to remain on the shelves, pending approval. This is important for a number of reasons. First, nearly every vapor product on the market today did not exist in 2007. The thousands of e-liquids and countless versions of electronic cigarettes available to smokers looking for an effective way to quit would be banned pending FDA approval without a change to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or subsequent Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which established the 2007 date.

That Act was intended to apply to cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and roll your own products. The FDA’s attempt to categorize new products under the authority given to them by that legislation lays out two pathways to “legalization” for new products on the market. The first is “substantial equivalence,” whereby a manufacturer must file for a tobacco product application, which includes clinical trials and would be relatively expensive for small and medium sized businesses.

Rep. Cole’s common-sense legislation moves up this substantial equivalence 2007 date to date of deeming regulation in 2015 and would prevent countless companies from having to cease operations given the cost of compliance for products that are already being sold to consumers.

If this legislative change if not made, and for the companies who could afford compliance, the FDA would be inundated with applications that the agency is not equipped to fast-track for approval. For combustible cigarette smokers looking to or considering quitting with e-cigarettes, this would be a tragedy as countless innovative smoking cessation devices would be at risk of never being sold.

The FDA has claimed that it does not have the power to modify the February 15, 2007 date, making a Congressional solution imperative. Americans for Tax Reform supports H.R. 2058 and urges more members to join on as co-sponsors in the coming weeks. This legislation will encourage innovation and teardown an unnecessary federal barrier to the sale of many products that stand to improve public health. 

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Pomegranny

I contacted my reps about it. Good reply from my state senator (Washington State) who is actually on the committee. Sure hope I'll wind up being happy I voted for her. I, of course, am a CASAA member and all for it. Best wishes, Tom Cole and sponsors.

Murray_B

The common use of the term “electronic cigarette” or “e cigarette” is unfortunate. Portable thermal vaporizers, or PTVs for short, do not burn anything, do not emit smoke, or use tobacco in any form. They can serve as a substitute for a tobacco cigarette but are not a new form of cigarette.

Fluids intended for use in the devices are primarily composed of glycerin and propylene glycol which are both common food additives that are generally considered as safe. Some fluids do also contain small amounts of nicotine in a solution that is usually less than 3% nicotine by weight. Nicotine is a thoroughly tested drug and is generally considered to be about as harmful as caffeine.

PTVs entered production in 2003 and have been available in North America since 2007. Since that time the devices have been carefully tested by several different groups and found to have few toxic emissions under normal operating conditions. Certain specialty power sources made for PTVs have circuitry to boost power levels and can be adjusted to drive PTV heating coils to abnormally high temperatures. At exceptionally high power settings PTVs can start burning the fluid and producing toxic combustion products.

There is nothing new about PTVs or the fluids they use so there is nothing to deem here.


ATR Opposes DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's Proposed Tax Hikes

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, May 11th, 2015, 5:02 PM PERMALINK


As the Washington, DC City Council weighs Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 2016 budget, low and middle-income taxpayers should be wary. Last Friday, ATR testified before the Committee of the Whole to express our concerns regarding Bowser’s regressive tax hikes.

Among other things, the $12.9 billion budget submitted by Bowser raises the city’s sales tax from 5.75% to 6% despite growing city revenue and annual growth. This $22 million tax hike would adversely affect the city’s poorest, even if intended to fund government projects to their benefit. The city rejected this increase last year, when Bowser was on the Council.

“It’s the most regressive kind of tax . . . and besides, you save raising the tax for the rainy day,” said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), noting that local revenue is projected to grow to more than $7 billion next year, an increase of $185 million, or nearly 3 percent. “When revenues are growing by 3 percent, you don’t need to be raising taxes.”

Another tax increase contained in the budget targets smokers looking for an effective way to quit. Bowser's 70% tax on electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) would constitute more than 1200% increase on the products currently subjected to the city’s 5.75% sales tax. This tax on quitting smoking is misguided and will result in closed businesses and a loss of city jobs.

That testimony can be found in its entirety here:

Chairman Mendelson and Members of the DC City Council,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform, thank you for providing us the opportunity to testify before the Committee of the Whole this morning.

Americans for Tax Reform is a non-profit taxpayer advocacy organization based here in Washington, D.C. that has existed since 1985. Last year, ATR was happy to support the historic tax reform package passed into law by the Council, which broadened the base of taxable services, reduced tax rates for individuals and businesses and took a step in the right direction towards making DC more competitive.

Unfortunately, this year’s Budget Request and Support Acts take a step in the wrong direction, particularly targeting low and middle-income consumers with higher, regressive taxes.

First, the proposal to raise the sales tax to 6%. District revenues are growing. This happens in periods of natural and competitive growth and makes this tax hike unnecessary. To target those who can least afford it with $22 million in higher taxes on the products they purchase just to get by flies in the face of last year’s tax reform package aimed at encouraging people to live, stay, shop, and move into the District.

Second, the proposal to raise taxes on electronic cigarettes and vapor products contained in the Vapor Products Amendment Act of 2015. Last year this Council changed the way DC taxes tobacco based on a recommendation from the DC Tax Reform Commission and the Tobacco Free Coalition. Electronic cigarettes and vapor products were exempt from being defined as tobacco for good reason. They’re tobacco-free and they’re effective smoking cessation products that stand to save thousands of lives in DC and millions of tax dollars.

The massively unjustifiable 70% tax on the wholesale cost of vapor products will guarantee that the poorest DC residents continue smoking combustible tobacco cigarettes. And while projections assert that this new tax will result in $382,000 in revenue next year, that is extremely unlikely because it assumes two things.

First, that consumers who have and are looking to make the switch from tobacco to vapor products will not simply buy the products in Maryland or Virginia, where the products are taxed at 6 percent in retail locations.

Second, that DC vapor product sales won’t go online where the District does not have the authority to tax or regulate sales to consumers.

Both assumptions are wrong and will result in less revenue than anticipated and less sales tax revenue from products currently taxed at 5.75 percent in DC retail locations. For products costing as much as $300, not even wealthy consumers will purchase the products in DC retail locations.

There are real, operational, new businesses in this City who stand to be put out of business with this tax hike. While they can speak better to the new employees they’ve hired, the rent, income, and sales taxes they’re paying, I wanted to echo their concerns. Increasing the cost of vapor products by 70 percent will make their sales no longer viable in DC. These shops may shut down and the city’s tax policies will discourage new shops from opening. This budget stands to kill current and future jobs.

The Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products remarked last year, “If we could get all of those people to completely switch all of their cigarettes to noncombustible cigarettes (electronic/vapor), it would be good for public health.” Does this Council disagree? Should we not create tax policy that facilitates and encourages consumers switching to tobacco-free technology products without placing an undue and costly burden on them?

Even as the FDA considers a set of guidelines on the industry, they admit vapor products are likely good for public health. That’s precisely why vapor products may save the District millions of tax dollars. The cost borne by taxpayers for the use of tobacco by recipients of Medicaid far outweighs the revenue generated from cigarette sales or tobacco settlement payments by an astounding 200 percent, according to a recent study by State Budget Solutions. Vapor products, used by lower and middle-income consumers on Medicaid will bring down the long-term health care costs paid for by the rest of District taxpayers. 

There’s a reason every state in the nation that considered taxing vapor products like tobacco in 2014 failed. Politicians in both parties agree that vapor products may just accomplish what lawmakers have failed to do for decades: ending tobacco cigarette use, as we know it. Any policies, including higher taxes that make it more expensive for residents to make the switch to far healthier alternatives, should be rejected.

We urge the City Council to reject the Mayor’s tax hike proposals.​

 

Photo Credit: 
Crystal Nicole Davis

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

Kenneth_Brown

One of the unsung benefits of vaping is the reduction in fires caused by unattended cigarettes and people falling asleep while smoking. I'd like to see states publish a report on how many fires each year are started by cigarettes. The savings from not having to fight those fires might be more money than the proposed taxes.

I stopped smoking partially by vaping and I recommend it to my friends that still smoke tobacco. While some might adopt it so they can continue to "smoke" in situations where tobacco use is not possible, many smokers see vaping as a great way to both ween themselves off of nicotine and the oral/physical habit at the same time. Something that a patch or gum (big pharma) is not that good at.


Hawaii Bans Smoking For Young Adults, Lets Kids Continue to Have Sex

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, April 27th, 2015, 4:15 PM PERMALINK


Hawaii is poised to become the first state in the nation to increase the legal smoking age to 21. In a move that indicates this has absolutely nothing to do with public health, the bill passed by the legislature on Friday also prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing tobacco-free electronic cigarettes.

While some localities, like New York City, have raised the legal smoking age to 21, if Gov. David Ige signs this law, Hawaii will become the first state to impose a statewide ban on young adult access to legal cigarettes. The law would go into effect January 1, 2016.

An example of an absurd claim regarding cigarette advertising came from Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who introduced the bill. “While the industry is not allowed to directly market to children, it is still developing packaging and advertising products in ways that appeal to children.”

No offense to the producers of Marlboro, but these are among the most boring and unappealing packaging designs imaginable:

Regarding e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently weighing a new set of deeming regulations regarding advertising and sales. Hawaii should defer to the FDA for guidance on this regulatory framework. 

At least one opponent of the legislation, Democratic Sen. Gil Riviere had some common sense insight: “You can sign contracts, you can get married, you can go to war and lose an arm or lose an eye… you come back and you’re 20 years old and you can’t have a s cigarette.”

The logic behind legislation saying “cigarettes are disgusting and should be banned” might as well apply to all adults, Riviere’s thinking goes (sarcastically).

The Nanny State is out of control.

Think about this. Beyond being able to serve in the military - putting your life at risk in many cases in the course of war for your country, in Hawaii, the legal age of consent is 16. There is a “close in age exception” that allows kids, yes children, who are 14 years old to also legally have sex with anyone who is less than 5 years older than they are. Hawaii has clearly concluded that middle schoolers have enough maturity and cognitive development to consent to sex with high school graduates, but not enough to think about the impact of cigarette use. 

Think what you will about age of consent laws but compare the double standard for permitting two different personal choices, both of which may have significant life-long consequences.

Hawaii’s rationale seems to be that what you do in your own bedroom is your call, unless it includes the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes. In the latter cases, the government must save you from yourself. 

Give me a break.

Photo Credit: 
Daniel Ramirez

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments

binthere222

But smoking dope is ok? We wouldn't have this problem if tobacco farmers were democrats.

Bill

When then Binthere, that is all the more reason to legalize it then, isn't it? So the chemicals can be banned and the plant can be used to stop pollution. Although I have a hard time believing your numbers are anything more then numbers pulled out of your own butt.

LibertyBill_1776

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its
victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under
robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

C. S. Lewis
English essayist & juvenile novelist (1898 - 1963)


Martinez Signs Asset Forfeiture Reform

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Jorge Marin, Paul Blair on Friday, April 10th, 2015, 3:54 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform would like to applaud Governor Susana Martinez (R-N.M.) and the state legislature for passing historic civil asset forfeiture reform legislation. The governor, a former district attorney, signed HB 560 which passed the legislature unanimously earlier this month. In a recent letter to Martinez, ATR urged the governor to sign this important law:

We ask that you help put an end to a regime that allows authorities to take and keep property from individuals not charged with a crime. By signing the bill, civil asset forfeiture is changed into criminal asset forfeiture; thereby ensuring that criminals, not law-abiding civilians, pay the price for broken laws.

In her a released statement, Martinez asserts “the changes made by this legislation improve the transparency and accountability of the forfeiture process and provide further protections to innocent property owners.”

This is, of course balanced with concern for law enforcement.

She asks that “we… ensure that our law enforcement officers have the training, protection, and tools necessary to fight crime within our borders. The burden is on public officials at every level to ensure that our law enforcement officers are respected for the work they do and have all the resources they need to protect our families.”

Civil asset forfeiture has been in the spotlight as a problematic tool that may invite abuse by some in the law enforcement community; however, New Mexico now finds itself leading the charge in reforms aimed at protecting the constitutional rights of Americans.

Hopefully, lawmakers and politicians will follow New Mexico’s example in protecting both citizens and law enforcement with similar reform legislation.

Photo Credit: 
Denise Womack-Avila

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments


ATR Opposes Transportation Tax Hikes in Idaho

Share on Facebook
Tweet this Story
Pin this Image

Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015, 8:29 AM PERMALINK


Yesterday, the Idaho state Senate amended a transportation plan to include new gas and car tax hikes to be phased in over the next four years. Intended to fund transportation projects, the $126.6 million tax hike cleared the Senate 22 to 13 and heads to the House for approval. Without a re-appropriation of funds from other parts of the budget, the state faces a $262 million shortfall for maintenance of its roads and bridges.

Click here to send a letter to your representatives and Governor Otter telling them to reject this tax hike. 

The House recently passed a 7-cent gas tax hike, which was coupled with a cut in the top income tax rates and the elimination of the sales tax on groceries. The Senate killed that bill without a debate or vote. 

Idaho’s gas tax stands at 25 cents per gallon and when combined with the federal 18.4 cents per gallon of gas taxes, Idaho consumers pay 43.4 cents per gallon of gas in taxes. The Senate amendment would raise the Idaho gas tax to 35 cents per gallon for a total of 53.4 cents per gallon total paid in taxes by Idaho commuters. That's higher than consumers pay in neighboring Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, and Oregon. 

The plan would raise the gas tax 4 cents this year, 4 cents in 2017, and another 2 cents in 2019.

Idaho Sen. Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens) opposed the tax increase, noting, "This is a very large tax increase…In my opinion, to come in, in the best revenue year since I’ve been here, to take all of that money and allocate it and raise taxes on top of that, I don’t think is frugal or conservative.” 

The original House bill contained $20 million in new revenue. The Senate’s tax hike is 8.5 times larger than the House transportation package, which relied on registration fee increases of $15 on cars and trucks and $6 on motorcycles. 

Another legislator who opposed the bill, Sen. Grant Burgoyne (D-Boise) noted the rushed nature of the proposal. “If we pass this, my constituents will never be heard on it…I didn't think that’s the way we did business.”

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and other lawmakers have refused to prioritize transportation projects with revenue from the general fund. This is misguided, as Sen. Steve Vick recently pointed out. From IdahoReporter.com: 

Vick said lawmakers should have found money in general fund spending hikes, at least $200 million in this year, to ease the burden of the gas tax and fee increases.

“To the citizens, it all comes out of the same pocket for them,” Vick said. “They have to budget for it. To those people, this is all the same money.”

Instead of focusing on ways to extract more revenue from taxpayers, commuters and small businesses in Idaho, the legislature should fund transportation with currently collected revenue, regardless of which fund it comes from. There isn’t a rule against using general fund money for transportation; it’s illogical to pretend that there is. General fund revenue should be spent on the legislature's greatest priorities, which should include maintaining state roads and bridges. 

The Idaho House should reject this tax hike and demand tax relief instead. 

Sign a letter to your representatives and the Governor by clicking here! 

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Top Comments


Pages

×