January 10, 2019

New House Bill Would Tax Vapes Like Cigarettes and Ban Flavors

This year will likely be the most challenging ever for both state and federal attacks on the vaping industry and the rights of vapers. Already one member of Congress has introduced a bill that would ban e-liquid flavors.

Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro, a longtime foe of vaping, has introduced a House bill called the Youth Vaping Prevention Act. Rep. DeLauro announced the legislation Tuesday at a school in New Haven.

If passed, the bill will ban flavors that cannot be proven to not “increase youth initiation” and proven to help smokers quit cigarettes — standards that consumer products probably can’t meet. It would also add federal excise taxes to vapor products, and prohibit the U.S. Postal Service from shipping vapor products. DeLauro also introduced a bill in 2015 that would have banned postal shipping of vapes.

DeLauro believes that flavored vapor products are literally intended for children. “It’s a different issue for adults, but what we’ve looked at in the last year is escalating numbers of middle school kids and high school students who are vaping and I would bet anything that their focus group data says this is their market,” she told local TV station WTNH.

Speaking to kids at the school, DeLauro said flavors are a trick to get them hooked. “That is what we call a marketing tool,” DeLauro said, according to the New Haven Independent. “That’s what makes it fun. It says, ‘Hey, this is great. It’s cotton candy, gummi bears’ or whatever. It is directly a marketing tool to all of you.”

DeLauro’s staff gave a summary of the bill to the Independent. The legislation will include these provisions:

  • Age verification for online sales

“Current law requires Internet and other mail-order sellers of cigarettes, roll-your-own, and smokeless tobacco products to:
a) verify purchasers’ age and identity before a sale through available ID databases; and,
b) use delivery methods that verify the age and ID of the person accepting delivery.
“The provisions in this bill would apply these same requirements to the sale of vapor/e-cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products not currently covered under current law. Because the United States Postal Service (USPS) does not have the ability to perform age-verification at delivery, this bill essentially prevents tobacco companies from shipping e-cigarettes through the Postal Service.”

  • Tax vapor products at the federal level

“E-cigarettes are not subject to a federal excise tax like other tobacco products are. While some states do tax e-cigarettes, this federal tax loophole often means that e-cigarettes are cheaper than alternative tobacco products.
“This bill extends the excise tax to all tobacco products covered under the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, such as e-cigarettes. The bill would also direct revenues raised from the federal tax on e-cigarettes to be allocated to the FDA’s Youth Tobacco Prevention and Education Plan.”

  • Ban e-liquid flavors

“This bill bans e-cigarette flavors unless the manufacturer can prove to FDA that their flavors meet three criteria:
(1) Help adults quit smoking cigarettes;
(2) Do not increase youth initiation of nicotine or tobacco products; and
(3) Do not increase the risk of harm to the person using the flavor.
“It would also ban cigar flavorings all together since there is no public health benefit to smoking cigars.”

Taxing vapor products at the same rate as cigarettes would add considerably to the cost. That would discourage many smokers from trying new products they’re already uncertain about. It might also drive some vapers back to smoking, or encourage a black market that would compete with established and trusted vendors.

Banning flavors would completely destroy the independent vape industry, since e-liquid sales is the lifeblood of vape shops and online retailers. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced bipartisan Senate legislation last year (the “SAFE Kids Act”) that would ban flavors. And in December, another bipartisan Senate bill was introduced to address the supposed epidemic of vaping in schools.

The bill -- HR 293 -- is now available to read on the Congress.gov website.

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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20comments

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1

Yes let’s ban everything because parents are lazy and don’t want to discipline or raise their kids. I mean the war on drugs doesn’t work and neither did prohibition.

2

This affects small business owners also. The majority of people I have come in to my shop are adults wanting to get away from smoking. They like the fact that they can vape a Cupcake or, a piece of hard candy. Any type of legislation denying flavors will destroy these businesses.

Jim McDonald
Author3

Agreed! That’s why I wrote, “Banning flavors would completely destroy the independent vape industry, since e-liquid sales is the lifeblood of vape shops and online retailers.”

4

Her New Haven office

New Haven Office

59 Elm Street

New Haven, CT 06510

Phone: (203) 562-3718

Fax: (203) 772-2260

And her DC office:

2413 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Phone: (202) 225-3661

Fax: (202) 225-4890

Jim McDonald
Author5

Thanks. That’s good information for people in her Connecticut district. People outside that district, or in other states, should contact their own House members and register their opposition.

6

Alcohol uses ads that target teens and sells thousands of flavored products and last year 88, 000 deaths in the USA were caused by alcohol. How many people died from vaping last year?

7

Shows you how powerful the big tobacco lobby truly is. Thank goodness for imports

Jim McDonald
Author8

The tobacco lobby isn’t responsible for this. Rather it is the tobacco control and public health groups like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung and Heart Associations, and American Academy of Pediatrics that have relentlessly lobbied against vapor products, and worked to poison the well of public opinion against vaping.

9

And they are all partially funded by tobacco lobbyist organizations…
I saw this coming a long time ago. And my suspicions were verified as soon as Altria(Philip Morris) bought into Juul for almost $5billion. It’s a way of using political influence to eliminate competition through regulation.

Jim McDonald
Author10

I don’t think tobacco control orgs or Democratic politicians have any connection to tobacco lobbyists or companies. If you have some evidence, I’d love to see it. That’s not to defend the tobacco industry. They’ve certainly used their power, influence and wealth to try to control the vaping debate.

Altria invested $13 billion in JUUL, by the way, not $5 billion.

11

I always wondered why Vaping studies were so divergent in the US vs UK, which is what me think of special interests first.

Jim McDonald
Author12

All the NIH money for tobacco research is approved by the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, and one of the criteria is that the study contributes to the FDA’s ability to “better regulate tobacco products.” The grant recipients pretty much understand what’s expected. So all the research looks at possible harms, and none of it focuses on possible benefits.

13

tobacco companies are clapping and praying for this …

14

Absolutely. Gotta sell them cancer sticks!

15

By this logic we should ban flavored alcoholic beverages like Mike’s hard Lemonades,Angry Orchard, Henry’s Hard sodas and all flavored Liqour because it’s a Marketing Tool used to entice Minors into under age drinking,…..right!?

16

So very true, 88,000 alcohol related deaths last year in the USA, thats the “EPIDEMIC” vaping is a solution

Jim McDonald
Author17

Yes, it’s the same logic. And I’m sure there are legislators who’d be happy to do that too.

18

The fact that they’re not doing that is shows the dishonesty of the flavor claim.

19

Mostly the Democrats, but Trump is a gun grabber, so meh who knows anymore?

Jim McDonald
Author20

Yeah, mostly Dems in Congress, but lots of Republicans elsewhere. Gottlieb, for instance. And a whole bunch of governors and state legislators.

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