Senate Bill Would Tax Vapes and Cigarettes the Same

How many smokers will quit if we tax vapes at the same rate?


If Sen. Dick Durbin has his way, vapers will have to spend as much to avoid smoking as smokers spend on cigarettes.

The senior Illinois senator has introduced a bill (page 40) that would tax all “tobacco products” at an equivalent rate to cigarettes. The bill is S 1837. All of the bill’s co-sponsors are Democrats:

  • Dick Durbin (IL)
  • Sherrod Brown (OH)
  • Jack Reed (RI)
  • Richard Blumenthal (CT)
  • Ed Markey (MA)
  • Al Franken (MN)

The bill aims to equalize taxes on different types of tobacco products, so that users of high-risk products like cigarettes and other combustibles and low-risk products like vapes and smokeless tobacco would be punished equally.

Whether or not you’re a believer in using taxes to control consumers’ behavior, everyone should recognize that making it just as expensive for nicotine users to purchase products that are much less dangerous than cigarettes will lead to fewer smokers switching.

The concept of differential taxation — deliberately taxing lower-risk products at a lower rate to encourage migration from high-risk choices — is an established strategy for improving health outcomes for smokers. But it’s apparently too difficult for Durbin and his cronies to grasp.

Durbin may not get anywhere with his all-star Progressive Democrat-sponsored measure, but he keeps trying. Alex Clark of CASAA points out that Durbin attempted to pass similar legislation three times before — in 2012, 2013, and 2015.

But previous failure doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll strike out this time. Vapers need to stay alert for any action on this bill in the Senate. If it gets attention or starts to move, CASAA will issue a call to action.

Meanwhile, marvel at the stupidity of politicians who claim to oppose cigarette smoking, but want to tax low-risk alternatives that offer smokers a safer choice.

Jim McDonald
I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.