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A Look Into Connecticut's Vape Tax That Failed To Pass

A Look Into Connecticut's Vape Tax That Failed To Pass

 

September 8th sparked the latest controversy in the vaping world, when Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy presented a budget proposal to the state legislature including a whopping seventy-five percent wholesale tax on vapor products..


This tax threatens brick-and-mortar shops across Connecticut, as many store owners fear it will cause consumers to seek out cheaper online options. It's projected that most of the state's ninety shops would be forced to close as their customers spent money elsewhere.

 

"Just do the math," said Christine Mazzotta, leader of the state chapter of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association. Mazzotta owns three shops in the state. A tax that high is simply going to push business out of Connecticut. It's going to close stores."


The tax proposal, buried deep within the governor's budget, would go into effect January 1st if approved. In its first year, it's projected to generate $4.3 million, with that figure rising to $8.5 million in 2019 (supposing that it doesn't kill the vape industry before then).

 

 

However, the budget has faced political opposition from supporters of vapor businesses within the legislature. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz believes that the tax is problematic in that it would push business away from the brick and mortar stores into the online realm. He presented his case very clearly - "If you make a product that is just not affordable locally or they can get it substantially cheaper on the internet, that's what will happen. We can't find ourselves in another situation where we banked on revenues coming into the state of Connecticut that evaporated and finding ourselves in another deficit six, eight months from now."


In 2016, legislators passed a similar 40 percent wholesale tax on vaping products in Pennsylvania, the results of which now serve as a cautionary tale. While the tax generated $13.7 million in new revenue, it also led to the closing of approximately a hundred vape shops within the state. If a high vape tax has taken such a toll in Pennsylvania, shouldn't it follow that a tax nearly twice as high would wreak an even more devastating toll on the industry in Connecticut?


This tax isn't the first attempt to collect profit from the vaping industry in Connecticut. A previous proposal was passed over in favor of a $400 annual fee required for vape shops to conduct business, with vaping products also being subject to the regular state sales tax.


Outside of money and government budgets, what will happen to local smokers looking to quit? The increase in taxes may drive them to put off their cessation attempt and continue smoking, or to seek out cheap alternatives online. Vaping has been proven as a tobacco harm reduction option, and placing exorbitant taxes on it may very well put individuals at risk if they choose to return to cigarettes over vaping.

 

While this tax was expected to pass in the end it actually failed upon its first hurdle.

 

If you'd like to make your voice heard, join CASAA and keep an eye out for their calls to Action. If you're a Connecticut vaper, this is your chance to celebrate a win for vaping!

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