The Arkansas state senate is set to vote (probably on Wed., March 20) on a bill that would add 67% to the wholesale cost of vaping products. The tax will probably shut down many if not most vape shops.
Vapers need to act today to prevent this law from passing.
A 40 percent wholesale tax in Pennsylvania shut down more than 100 vape shops. A 67 percent tax would cause even more damage to Arkansas’ vaping businesses — and to vapers. According to the American Vaping Association, the Arkansas law would tax e-liquid and prefilled pods, but would also tax vaping devices that don’t include nicotine, like mods and atomizers.
The bill also proposes a tax increase on cigarettes. Arkansas Senate President Jim Hendren, a Republican, is selling the tax hike as a way to pay for other tax cuts, which he says will help low-income Arkansas residents. But most people who smoke and vape are also low- to middle-income, and will bear the burden of the increase.
Providing tax relief to some people by creating a new, regressive tax that punishes the poor is a backwards way of helping disadvantaged residents. In Arkansas, 22.3 percent of adults smoke cigarettes, according to the CDC. Only four states have a higher smoking rate. Taxing vapes will prevent many Arkansas residents from trying low-risk products that could save their lives.
“When you look at the statistics about health in Arkansas, we’re one of the most unhealthy states. We have one of the highest cancer rates,” said Hendren. Apparently Sen. Hendren doesn’t understand that tobacco-free vapes can help the state improve its cancer rate, as well as lower heart and lung disease levels. It’s up to vapers to educate him, and the other legislators who will vote tomorrow.
The bill actually proposes several smaller changes to tobacco product taxes that add up to a 67 percent increase in wholesale cost. However it’s structured, adding 67 percent to the cost of vapor products — including e-liquid, mods, pod devices, and everything else vapers use — will keep many Arkansas residents smoking, and drive vape shop customers to out-of-state online vendors. Not only will the tax punish vapers, it will also put employees of vape businesses out of work and send Arkansas dollars to other states.
It’s crucially important for Arkansas vapers to contact their state senators today to register disapproval of this bill, SB 571. Use CASAA’s call to action to send a message to your state senator. It takes less than a minute, or just a few minutes if you take the time to personalize the message by telling your senator how important vaping has been to you.