E-cigarette sellers urged lawmakers Tuesday afternoon to reconsider legislation to tax vaping products, arguing it would harm retailers in the state and adult smokers who are trying to ween off traditional cigarettes.
“The products are all very different. The products are consumed differently and the potential impact for consumers varies dramatically from product to product,” said Brian Fojtik of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, testifying before the Revenue Committee.
The committee heard other testimony on the 75 percent excise tax on the wholesale price of e-cigarettes, filed by Sen. Harriette Chandler and Rep. Marjorie Decker.
Massachusetts lawmakers have raised the alarm about e-cigarettes fueling nicotine addiction among youth. The Legislature passed a law that raised the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21 in 2018. The excise tax was included in fiscal 2020 budget plans presented by Gov. Charlie Baker, the House and the Senate.
“I don’t think I have to tell you that e-cigarettes have created a public health crisis,” said Chandler, a Worcester Democrat.
E-cigarette use has surged over the past few years among underage users. A 2018 surgeon general advisory reported that one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students vape. Teachers and coaches in Massachusetts high schools say children smoke vape pends that look like USB drives in bathrooms and in the halls.
Decker, a Cambridge Democrat, said e-cigarette companies have taken a page out of Big Tobacco and recalls her parents’ lifelong struggle with nicotine addiction.
“We know that taxing has been proven to reduce consumption of tobacco products, and we know it will also reduce consumption of cigarettes,” she said. “We reduce consumption. We reduce addiction. We reduce health care costs.”
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