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WTAS: Broad bipartisan opposition to partisan vaping bill

February 28, 2020

The House is set to vote on H.R. 2339, a tax hike bill Democrats claim will somehow reduce teen vaping.

While Republicans agree that we should implement policies that reduce teen vaping, this new tax hike Democrats are proposing could possibly have the opposite effect.

Coalition groups and individuals from across the country and ideological spectrum agree. Here are what they are saying about this flawed approach to hiking taxes and banning flavors:

The ACLU, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Action Network, The Center for Popular Democracy, National Association of Social Workers, Drug Policy Alliance, and Law Enforcement Action Partnership:

“We have concerns that a blanket prohibition on menthol and other flavored tobacco products, which will apply to adults, will (1) disproportionately impact people and communities of color; (2) trigger criminal penalties, prioritizing criminalization over public health and harm reduction; and (3) instigate unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”

The Mothers of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner Have Opposed Similar Efforts on Similar Grounds:

“We urge you to carefully consider any bill that seeks to ban menthol cigarettes … The majority – 80 percent – of Black smokers prefer menthol cigarettes. When you ban a product sold mostly in Black communities, you must consider the reality of what will happen to that very same over-represented community in the criminal justice system.”

National Taxpayers Union:

“It’s a significant tax hike that will severely harm consumers and small business owners. While there is likely to be harm to the economic health of the country, there would also be damage to the health of adults transitioning away from deadly cigarettes. According to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, taxing vapor products at the same rate as traditional cigarettes would deter approximately 2.75 million Americans from kicking their habit. In other words, tax policy alone could make it less likely that millions of Americans make choices that would improve their health.”


“Despite the bill’s wildly misleading short title, it will not, in fact, do anything to combat youth usage of tobacco products. What it will do is make it more difficult for adult smokers to quit on their own terms. This bill prohibits the use of any and all characterizing flavors of tobacco products, including menthol. It’s important to note this is not limited to e-cigarettes. Traditional menthol cigarettes would become illegal if this bill were made law.”

R Street Institute:

“Policies that treat e-cigarettes the same as combustible cigarettes encourage current smokers to continue doing enormous harm to their health by discouraging a switch from combustible products. Conversely, policies that reflect the lesser harm of e-cigarettes can significantly reduce the enormous burden of disease that combustible cigarettes impose on society.”

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste:

“Tobacco is a legal product in the U.S. and even if Congress could ban it, there should be little doubt that China would step in and flood an illicit market as it is the leading producer of tobacco in the world. The same result will occur if flavors are banned, especially with ENDS products. Current adult users will either go back to combustible cigarettes, which are deadly, or take the chance and purchase illegal products. Congress will have created a real health crisis that could have been avoided.”

National Association of Convenience Stores:

“A ban on menthol cigarettes, flavored smokeless tobacco, and flavored cigars will undoubtedly lead to a black market for these products because of the broad consumer base that exists among adult users. When that happens, the illicit purveyors of menthol cigarettes, flavored smokeless tobacco, and flavored cigars, operating outside of the law, will not discriminate among their customers based on age. We already see this problem in the large illicit tobacco market that exists today.”

Americans for Tax Reform:

“The tax imposed by this bill would result in a $5.01 tax on an average 30 milliliter bottle of refillable vapor product liquid that contains 6 milligrams of nicotine, the type of products many smokers purchase in thousands of vape shops in America. For multi-packs of “closed-system” products sold in 150,000 convenience stores, the tax would be range between $3-5 per pack. Compare that to the federal excise tax on combustible tobacco cigarettes, which is $1.01 per pack. Taxing reduced risk electronic cigarettes at a significantly higher rate than cigarettes works at cross purposes with both the government and free market’s ongoing effort to reduce the harm associated with cigarette use.”

Taxpayers Protection Alliance:

“Advocates of greater vaping restrictions continue to ignore the evidence and cite instances of e-cigarettes allegedly inducing lung illnesses. But, as confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and corroborated by numerous peer-reviewed academic publications such as the New England Journal of Medicine, every case of illness and tragic death has been as a result of illicit, black-market THC vaping devices bought on the streets and laced with substances such as Vitamin E acetone.”

Tax Foundation:

“Aside from public health concerns, a ban on flavored tobacco, especially when including cigarettes, would have significant tax implications and result in unintended consequences such as increased smuggling. Tobacco excise taxes are already an unstable source of tax revenue. Further narrowing the tobacco tax base by banning a portion of tobacco sales altogether could worsen the instability of this revenue source while driving up the costs of administration and law enforcement associated with the ban, especially if the lost revenue is made up by raising the tax rate on the remaining tobacco tax base.”