Washington governor proposes 95 percent tax on vapor products, e-cigarettes

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FIFE, Wash. (KING) – As thousands of smokers across the country are trying to kick the habit for the New Year, many are turning to electronic cigarettes.

However, Washington Governor Jay Inslee says those electronic smokers should help fill a gap in the state budget.

He wants to impose a 95 percent tax on any and all vapor products.

The tax hike was one of several the governor outlined in his budget plan, which was announced on Thursday.

Instantly, the proposal was met with criticism from the American Vaping Association.

“A 95 percent tax would do a few different things,” Kim Thompson, who owns The Vaporium, told KING. “One, it would demonize a product, make it look as though it was as bad as smoking. The other thing is that it would make vaping and traditional cigarettes more similar in pricing. It would give us less incentive to the smoke to say, ‘Hey, give this a try.”

She says it would drive customers back to traditional tobacco cigarettes.

“Taxing small businesses out of business is bad business,” she said.

However, Rep. Reuven Carlyle, who proposed a similar vapor tax that was not approved, supports Inslee’s proposal.

“Last year, we introduced legislation to bring vaping up to the regular level of other similar products such as snuff and other things,” he said. “This is just a fairness issue. It’s a parity issue. No one is looking to single out vaping, we are just looking to bring it to the same level of taxation of other similar products.”

Snuff and some cigars are taxed at 95 percent under Washington’s current tobacco products tax.

Thompson says there is an obvious difference.

“There’s zero tobacco in my product,” she said. “Zero tobacco. We do not promote tobacco, we do not promote smoking or anything that has cancer causing ingredients.”

Carlyle disagrees.

“It really is very important to keep in mind that this is a product that has an active ingredient of nicotine, that is addictive,” he said.

The American Vaping Association says there are only two states that tax vapor products and they only tax products that contain nicotine.

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