Vaping vendors across California are bracing for a first-time state tax on electronic cigarettes following the passage of a ballot hiking tobacco taxes.
The initiative could hit the vaping industry with a 67 percent penalty on the purchase of liquid nicotine. The tax is part of Proposition 56, which passed with 63 percent support and will raise the tax on tobacco products in the state from 87 cents to $2.87, along with bringing e-cigarettes under the umbrella.
It is quite a reversal for an invention once billed as the biggest chance to end smoking as we know it and take aim at the country’s largest cause of preventable death. Use of the devices is slumping because they are not as good as cigarettes at giving a hit of nicotine. Dealing another strike against them, the country’s top public health authorities have sent an unwavering message: Vaping is dangerous.
The warning is meant to stop people who have never smoked — particularly children — from starting to vape. But a growing number of scientists and policy makers say the relentless portrayal of e-cigarettes as a public health menace, however well intentioned, is a profound disservice to the 40 million American smokers who could benefit from the devices. Smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans a year.
“We may well have missed, or are missing, the greatest opportunity in a century,” said David B. Abrams, senior scientist at the Truth Initiative, an antismoking group. “The unintended consequence is more lives are going to be lost.”