Americans for Tax Reform today praised the Montana Senate for passing SB 398, a common sense, good governance reform that will save not only livelihoods – but also lives. SB 398 ensures appropriate transparency and accountability over decisions impacting public health while also safeguarding Montana’s state revenue base.
In response to the bill’s passage, Tim Andrews, Americans for Tax Reform’s Director of Consumer Issues, congratulated Montana legislators on this achievement and noted that: “It is the fundamental responsibility of state governments to protect their citizens. At times, these threats can come from local governments that act without any accountability or scrutiny and impose punitive taxes on the most vulnerable in their communities. SB 398 will put a stop to this.”
Montana state health officials testified during a hearing on SB 398 that, should the bill not be passed, laws will be enacted in twenty-six Montana localities that would outlaw stores selling e-cigarettes and vapor products. This would force the closure of over twenty establishments and cost more than one hundred jobs in the state. These local laws would also leave countless smokers looking to quit the deadly habit of cigarette use without access to scientifically proven reduced harm alternatives.
Andrews made sure to note the incredible public health benefits of SB 398, stating that “Not only will this bill stop businesses being closed by ill-informed, unaccountable bureaucrats, it will also save lives. According to the world’s leading cancer academics, E-cigarettes could save over 27,000 lives in Montana if a majority of the state’s cigarette smokers made the switch to vaping. SB 398 will preserve the ability of Montana residents to access these lifesaving products and will have a significant impact on decreasing socioeconomic disparities that exist in health.”
Andrews also recognized the leadership of Representative Ron Marshall noting that: "Rep. Marshall's tireless advocacy on behalf of consumers, taxpayers, and small businesses has been nothing short of remarkable and this achievement would not have been possible without his passion and dedication. Businesses across the state, as well as smokers desperately trying to quit their deadly habit, owe him and his team a great debt of thanks."
SB 398 will now be transmitted to the House, where Representatives will consider the bill in committee before it can be voted on by the full House. Americans for Tax Reform will continue our advocacy in support of SB 398 and encourages all Montana taxpayers, legislators, and consumers to voice their support for this legislation as well.