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Missouri Republican Pushes to Repeal Prohibition on Tobacco Tax Hikes

Missouri Republican Pushes to Repeal Prohibition on Tobacco Tax Hikes

 


One of the perpetual risks to the vaping community is the ability for any government to rewrite tobacco laws to include vapor products. One simple change to tax laws could destroy local businesses, restrict vapers’ ability to obtain hardware and e-liquid, and create an environment where vaping is verboten by government decree.


The latest attempt by government at the state level comes from a Republican representative from Missouri, Curtis Trent. In January, Trent introduced legislation that would repeal the state’s legislation (HB1855) which prohibits increasing taxes on tobacco products. This would allow the state to rewrite the tobacco tax law any way they see fit.


Since vaping has exploded as an industry in the past decade, states and countries have been arming themselves with tax hikes explicitly targeting vaping by adding language that directly equates vapor products products and tobacco in legislation about tobacco products, despite vapor products not actually containing tobacco. The vaping industry in general views itself as a completely separate entity from big tobacco industries.


Concerns


This repeal of an existing tobacco law sends a big red flag to the vaping community.


The main concern is that under current tax legislation, the state of Missouri doesn’t include vapor products included in any existing tobacco tax. After repealing the current tax law, Missouri would then be able to rewrite these laws and include vapor products, as they’ve done in other states, and severely hamper the local vaping community.


For example, Pennsylvania imposed a 40 percent tax hike on vape gear and e-liquids last year, and already the change has had devastating effects on local brick and mortar shops. A Pennsylvania-based policy institute, the Commonwealth Foundation, found that 93 of the 311 vape shops operating statewide have closed, which is a 30 percent drop since the new tax was implemented.


Other states have imposed a variety of tax laws and bans that have made vaping an increasingly more difficult consideration for state law. These laws are constantly being changed, and for a complete list, there’s a Wikipedia article going down state by state bans.


Worse, lumping vaporizers and accessories in with "tobacco products" reinforces the mistaken assumption that vaping is the same as smoking, despite an abundance of evidence that it's a safer, healthier practice that often doesn't involve any product even partially derived from a tobacco plant. Even e-liquids that contain nicotine are increasingly adopting lab-synthesized "tobacco-free nicotine" so that their users can take comfort in being 100% tobacco-free.


What’s In The Existing Law?


In order to understand what law is being repealed, here’s an excerpt of the law that’s been in place:  


“The general assembly hereby occupies and preempts the entire field of legislation increasing the taxation of cigarettes and tobacco products to the complete exclusion of any order, ordinance or regulation by any political subdivision of this state.”

These laws have been in place for a long time, since the early 90s when regulation of tobacco products was in its heyday.


“No county, city, town, village, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state shall adopt any order, ordinance or regulation increasing the tax levied on cigarettes and tobacco products. The tax levied by any county, city, town, village, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state shall not exceed the amount of tax levied on September 30, 1993.”



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