Misguided tax hikes on vaping threaten public health in Oregon and Colorado. Both states have upcoming ballot measures which would increase taxes on cigarettes and vaping, even though Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians have concluded that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes.
Oregon Measure 108 places the option on the ballot for voters to decide on a tax hike which would raise rates from 1.33$ per 20 pack of cigarettes to 3.33$. As it applies to E-Cigarettes, the ballot measure, if passed, would impose a tax at a rate of 65 percent of the wholesale sales price for the product. Cigars would also be effected by this ballot measure by increasing taxes from $0.50 to 1.00$ per cigar, this would raise the tax rate to 65 percent, which is its wholesale sales price cap.
The revenue generated from this ballot measure would go to funding multiple health programs for the state. From 2008 to 2018 nine other ballot measures had been offered by states for a tobacco tax increase. The ballot measures in the past had all been defeated by voters; except Proposition 6 in California during 2016.
Colorado Proposition EE is another ballot measure tax hike. In Colorado cigarettes are currently taxed at a rate of 84 cents per pack. The ballot measure would set up an incremental schedule to increase the tax rate for cigarettes to 1.80$ per pack by July 2027. This would result in a 2.64$ tax rate per pack overall. For cigars, the ballot measure would incrementally raise the tax rate from 20 percent to 22 percent by July 2027. E-Cigarettes are currently not taxed in Colorado. This ballot measure would create a new tax for E-Cigarettes starting at 30 of percent manufactures list price in 2021, and incrementally increase to 62 percent of manufactures list price by July 2027. Most of the revenue from these new taxes will be geared towards education funding but, a sizable portion will also be directed towards the general fund.
These taxes make life-saving vape products more expensive and less accessible, and risk jobs and businesses as small vape shops will suffer. Meanwhile cigarette tax revenue is notoriously unreliable. Colorado and Oregon voters will have to consider the many downsides of these tax hikes as they head to the polls.