Earlier today, Americans for Tax Reform contacted members of the Minnesota Senate Committee on Taxes, urging them to reject SF 2301, legislation that would increase the tax rate on life-saving reduced harm tobacco alternatives like e-cigarettes and other vapor products. SF 2301 also seeks to raise the tax rate on tobacco products, a policy that would disproportionately harm Minnesota’s most vulnerable populations while doing nothing to reduce smoking rates.
Tim Andrews, Americans for Tax Reform’s Director of Consumer Issues, noted that SF 2301 would intensify past public health mistakes made by the Minnesota legislature, writing, “the National Bureau of Economic Research determined that Minnesota’s tax on vaping products, prevented 32,400 additional adult smokers from quitting smoking. This entirely self-inflicted public health disaster caused by the Minnesota Legislature will be further compounded if this bill is enacted.”
Andrews also pointed out the negative effects of tobacco tax hikes, remarking that “data from the National Adult Tobacco Surveys has consistently demonstrated that tobacco tax increases have no statistically significant impact on the prevalence of smoking among those with household incomes of less than $25,000. Seventy-two percent of smokers are from low-income communities and increasing taxes on people unable to quit will put unnecessary hardship upon families who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
Acknowledging the overwhelming body of scientific research that shows e-cigarettes to be over 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes and more than twice as effective at helping cigarette smokers quit than other nicotine replacement therapies, Andrews wrote, “the Minnesota Legislature should embrace new methods that are proven to help reduce smoking rates, and facilitate smokers quitting through reduced risk tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes. To tax safer products at such a high rate, thereby driving people to more deadly alternatives, goes against every principle of sound public or health policy. Small increases in projected revenue should never come at the expense of human lives.”
The full testimony can be read here.