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

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Monday, April 5th, 2021, 2:28 PM PERMALINK

Earlier today, Americans for Tax Reform wrote to legislators in Montana, urging them to vote Yes on SB 398, common sense legislation that safeguards the state’s revenue base and ensures appropriate transparency and accountability over decisions impacting public health. The proposed legislation would also protect Montana businesses and consumers from harmful taxes and unnecessary regulation, while defending the ability of consumers to access lifesaving reduced harm tobacco alternatives.  

Tim Andrews, ATR’s Director of Consumer Issues, wrote “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.” 

Andrews encouraged members of the Montana Senate to follow the science on e-cigarettes, writing “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.” 

Andrews also noted the importance of protecting state revenues, writing “This is a matter 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.” 

Andrews concluded by pointing out to lawmakers the lifesaving impacts that SB 398 would have, noting that “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.” 

The full letter can be read here

Photo Credit: Timothy G. Lumley

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