Vapers and vendors made some noise in Pennsylvania Monday, filling the steps of the capitol in Harrisburg. The protest of the 40 percent tax was well organized and orderly. Depending on who you ask, there were between 250 and 400 protesters.
Speaker after speaker decried the unjust tax, and asked the legislature to pass the compromise bill (HB 2342) offered by Rep. Jeff Wheeland, which replaces the 40 percent tax with a five-cents-per-milliliter e-liquid tax. While no tax on vapor products is a good thing, the Wheeland bill also eliminates the criminal penalties for vapers who buy from unlicensed sellers.
Wheeland is the state representative in the district where Fat Cat Vapor is located. Fat Cat owner Chris Hughes is running a write-in campaign to unseat the House member in his home district. Fat Cat has closed because of the tax, but would reopen if it is repealed.
The rally featured many speakers from Pennsylvania — including Reps. Wheeland and Kate Klunk, state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, Smokefree Pennsylvania’s Bill Godshall, SFATA-PA chapter president Dave Norris, Chris Hughes, and organizers John Dietz and Chuck Huff.
National vaping advocates turned out too. New national SFATA executive director Pamela Gorman spoke, and the crowd also heard speeches from Paul Blair of Americans for Tax Reform, CASAA legislative director Alex Clark, and the American Vaping Association‘s Greg Conley. These speakers make up the vape advocacy “dream team” that will be mainstays on the upcoming Right To Vape Tour.
The Pennsylvania vaping community should be proud of the work done organizing the protest and pulling it off without a hitch — especially the efforts of John Dietz and Eve Vape’s Chuck Huff. The protest got mainstream coverage too, including a story on the Harrisburg ABC affiliate.
Good news - but don't let up!
It also may have made a difference. House Bill 2342 passed the finance committee with an 18-4 vote Tuesday without any attached amendments. It may be possible to pass the bill rapidly. Then the governor would have to sign it into law. You can follow further developments on the Pennsylvanians Against Vape Tax Facebook page. Pennsylvania residents should visit NoPAVapeTax.com to urge their representatives to support HB 2342. They should also e-mail and call Gov. Tom Wolf’s office to ask him to sign the bill.