Pennsylvania vaping vendors have suffered since passage of the state’s 40 percent wholesale tax on vapor products. More than 100 vape shops have closed — about a third of the shops in the state — despite the governor’s claim that it would raise $13 million in revenue.
Vapers and business owners are holding a rally at the state capitol in Harrisburg next Monday, Jan. 23, at 10:00 a.m., to send a message to state legislators. State and national advocates will be urging lawmakers to rework the tax and prevent additional store closings and lost jobs. Check out the Facebook page put together by the Pennsylvania Vape Association for details. The PVA is organizing the rally.
Speakers at the event will include Alex Clark of CASAA, Greg Conley of the American Vaping Association, Chris Hughes, PVA president Charles Huff, SFATA Pennsylvania president Dave Norris, and Bill Godshall of Smokefree Pennsylvania. It’s crucial that the vaping community shows the legislature that vapers aren’t going anywhere, and that we’re not going to shut up and accept being buried by an unjust tax.
Second time's the charm
This will be the second time vapers have gathered in the capitol rotunda. The first rally, last September, brought together a huge number of Pennsylvania vapers, vaping business owners, local and national advocates, and news media. Sympathetic politicians spoke to the crowd and promised a push to change the law. But that effort fell short.
The law not only requires retailers to pay 40 percent of the cost on all products purchased after October 1, 2016, it also forced them to pay a one-time “floor tax” on all onhand inventory as of that date. It also requires private individuals making purchases from out-of-state or online sellers to declare the value and pay the tax themselves.
This year, Rep. Jeff Wheeland and Sen. Camera Bartalotta will again introduce legislation to reduce the 40 percent tax to a five cents per milliliter e-liquid tax, and to separate vapor from tobacco products in the state budget definition.
Last year, we told the story of Chris Hughes, who had to close his Montoursville vape shop because of the tax. Hughes said that the tax “introduces total chaos into the market in PA. It’s like flipping over a chess board, and scattering the pieces everywhere. There’s no telling what things will look like after.”
Now we know what it looks like: a mess. Every vaper who can get to Harrisburg Monday should make the effort. A strong showing at the capitol will send a message to legislators that this headache is not going to go away.