Montana's SB 398 Is Common Sense, Good Governance Reform That Will Save Lives

April 5, 2021

Dear Senator, 

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across Montana, I urge you to vote in favor of good government and to vote YES on SB 398 when this bill comes before the Senate floor. 

If enacted, SB 398 would safeguard the state’s revenue base, ensure appropriate transparency and accountability over decisions that impact on public health, and would protect Montana businesses and consumers from harmful taxes and regulations imposed by local governments on reduced harm tobacco alternatives.

It is the fundamental responsibility of state governments to protect their citizens, even when these threats come from local government officials. Acting without the degree of accountability and scrutiny found at the state level, these officials may impose punitive taxes on the most vulnerable in their communities.

Further, local restrictions may act contrary to the science and data that clearly illustrate that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes have also been proven to be more than twice as effective at helping adults quit the deadly habit of cigarette smoking than traditional nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine patches and gum. 

This is a matter also better addressed at the state, not local, level as restricting the use of e-cigarettes and vapor products would lead to further strains on the state budget due to the healthcare costs incurred by people prevented from using them to quit smoking. Further, local tax increases would lead to an increase in smuggling and the sale of illicit products, adversely affecting state tax collections while increasing criminal activity. 

“Local control” is, at its core, about safeguarding individual liberties and restricting the growth of government. It is not a free pass for cities to do as they please. Localities are just as capable of being conduits for heavy-handed laws that will harm citizens. When that is at stake, state action is not only appropriate to safeguard freedoms – it is essential. 

According to Georgetown University Medical Center, e-cigarettes could save over 27,000 lives in the Treasure State if a majority of smokers made the switch from cigarettes to vaping. SB 398 would preserve the ability of Montana residents to access these lifesaving products. As such, in the interests of protecting consumers and businesses, ensuring state tax collections are not depressed by local taxes and regulations, and improving public health, we call on you to support SB 398. 

Americans for Tax Reform supports SB 398 and urges you to vote YES! 

Sincerely, 

 

Grover Norquist 
President 
Americans for Tax Reform 

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