n a crazy late-night session, Washington State legislators passed a budget bill last Saturday that included a tax on vapor products. But even though the tax has been approved and is heading to the governor’s desk for signature, one state legislator has a plan to convince Gov. Jay Inslee to veto the tax.
Rep. Drew MacEwen is sympathetic to vaping as a harm reduction tool for people who smoke, and he’s hoping to deliver a stack of testimonials from vapers to Inslee that will persuade the governor to exercise his line-item veto power and remove the vape tax from the budget bill.
CASAA has issued a call to action, providing Washington vapers a template to send a comment to the governor. Please add your own story on how vapor products have helped you, and why the proposed tax will hurt you, and kill small businesses in the state.
It’s important to message the governor immediately, since he could sign the vape tax into law at any time.
The bill, HB 1873, will slam vape shops and e-liquid manufacturers in Washington State with a 9-cent-per-milliliter tax on e-liquid in containers that hold 5 mL or more. It also taxes pods and cartridges smaller than 5 mL at a rate of 27 cents-per-mL. But because the e-liquid in pods is much higher in strength, users consume less liquid than open-system vapers do. If Gov. Inslee signs the bill, the state will charge a $9.00 tax on a 100 mL bottle of e-liquid, but just a $0.76 tax on a four-pack of JUUL pods (2.8 mL).
The higher tax on bottled e-liquid will hurt Washington vape shops and e-liquid manufacturers, and probably drive many out of business, as vapers turn to out-of-state online sellers and DIY. E-liquid is the primary profit source in vape shops.
Vapers and vaping businesses have faced annual threats in the Washington state legislature and from Gov. Inslee. Although action by the state’s strong trade association the Pink Lung Brigade has headed off previous attempts to tax vaping products, the current atmosphere is much more difficult to navigate.
The teen vaping moral panic has made it easier for politicians to target vaping to grandstand for their constituents, many of whom are parents concerned about the daily news stories and pronouncements from the FDA about the “vaping epidemic.”