Connecticut vapers and vape shop owners are facing extinction, and there is very little time to take action. The state’s General Assembly could vote on a brutal anti-vaping tax proposal as early as Thursday.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has proposed a 75 percent wholesale tax on all vapor products as part of his revised budget plan. And since the state has been operating without a budget for two months, and legislators are feeling pressure to pass a bill this week.
Desperation often pushes legislators to vote for blatantly stupid tax proposals. If the governor says he can produce $13 million in the next year and a half, the Assembly might jump at the chance. Unless vapers start getting loud right now — like TODAY.
Connecticut vapers should follow CASAA’s call to action, and send messages to the governor and lawmakers right now. The CASAA page has phone numbers for the governor’s office and key legislators too — and suggested talking points for your calls. Business owners especially should be on the phone today.
There are about 90 vape shops in Connecticut. It’s likely that they would all be forced to close if this tax is adopted. Most vapers will turn to online vendors or visit neighboring states to avoid the huge increase in prices.
“Just do the math,’’ Christine Mazzotta told the Hartford Courant. “A tax that high is simply going to push business out of Connecticut. It’s going to close stores.” Mazzotta owns three shops in the state, and is president of the Connecticut SFATA chapter.
If the tax remains in the budget, it will take effect Jan. 1, 2018. The governor claims it will produce $4.3 million in revenue in 2018, and $8.5 million in 2019. But closed businesses don’t produce any tax revenue. They won’t produce the sales, payroll, and property taxes that they’re paying already either.
When a similar measure was passed last year in Pennsylvania — but with “only” a 40 percent wholesale tax — more than half of the state’s 200 vape shops went out of business. Pennsylvania vendors have since faced a nightmare of false hopes, disappointments, and confusing proposals to change the tax.
“Gov. Malloy’s 75 percent wholesale tax proposal will devastate the small, family-owned local vapor businesses in Connecticut,’’ April Meyers told the Courant. “He should consider Pennsylvania’s recent loss of jobs and tax revenues, stemming from a tax that is roughly half of his own proposal, and pull back on this destructive policy immediately.” Meyers owns a vape shop in Old Saybrook, and is the the president of the board of the national SFATA organization.
“An excise tax on vapor products is nothing more than an effort by politicians to fill their state coffers on the backs of former smokers who apparently aren’t allowed to stop paying cigarette excise taxes even after they stop buying cigarettes,” she added.