Come next year, Kentucky lawmakers will be asked to enact an excise tax on electronic cigarettes. The proposal calls for a tax on vaping products and e-cigs at the same level as traditional cigarettes.
The legislative proposal is being promoted as a way to reduce young people and pregnant women from using of vaping products.
Republican Representative Jerry Miller gives it a better than 50-50 chance in 2020, partly because of the need for money to address pension problems. “If you’ve got to generate money, ‘sin taxes’ is where it’s easier in my view to get traction,” said Miller.
The measure adds an excise tax on the sale of e-cigarettes at the wholesale level.
Louisville Mercy Academy Graduate Jenna Ebel believes a higher cost will help reduce use. “People my age are working minimum wage jobs, even just a dollar, two dollar increase on like taxes, that’s going to make it a little more expensive, so every single time, that’s a little bit more money that we don’t already have that’s going to be going to that,” noted Ebel.
Tax bills are typically not viewed favorably in the GOP-controlled state Senate.
While saying e-cigarettes may help wean adults off traditional cigarettes, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said youth vaping use is a serious concern. Thayer added he can’t say how he would vote. “I’m not sure yet, but I’m keeping an open mind because I’m very worried about a health care epidemic because of teenagers using vaping products as an entryway into smoking,” explained Thayer.
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Jeff Howard says he’s been told school bathrooms are turning into electronic cigarette dens. Taylor Mill Representative Kim Moser says adult habits can develop during high school years, so it’s important to curb youth vaping.
Miller expects e-cigarette firms to testify in interim meetings between now and January.
Here's more with Bill Sponsor Jerry Miller of Louisville:
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