Senate plan would hike tax on e-cigarettes, vaping products

COLUMBUS — A massive rewrite by the Ohio Senate of the next two-year budget aims to increase prices on e-cigarettes and vapor products by subjecting them to the same tax as cigar, chewing, pipe, and other non-cigarette tobacco.

It marks a rare instance among numerous proposed changes to the budget in which the Senate would raise a tax rather than cut one.

“Vapor has filled a space in Ohio that teenagers are clearly being attracted to … ” said Sen. Matt Dolan (R., Chagrin Falls), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “The reality is it’s not coming down from tobacco. It’s an ability for kids to get addicted to the nicotine in a vapor product.

“If we’re going to be able to discourage its use and help regulate it, it needed to be part of the taxing authority.”

The budget is expected to undergo many more changes and could go to a final Senate next week. A final budget must reach Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk by June 30.

E-cigarettes and vapor products are already subject to the sales tax at retail, which can range from 5.75 percent to 8 percent depending on where a product is purchased in Ohio. The Senate plan would also subject them to the 17 percent tax placed on the wholesale price of other tobacco products.

This is in addition to the budget’s proposed hike in the minimum age to legally purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21 that has been sought by Mr. DeWine.

Senate President Larry Obhof (R., Medina) said there was some discussion among Republicans about taxing vapor and e-cigarettes at the same rate as cigarettes. Ohio taxes cigarettes at $1.60 a pack, ranking in the middle nationally


A customer blows a cloud of smoke from a vape pipe at a local shop in Richmond, Va.

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