By Eric Beasley
So aside from their asinine gun control legislation and attempt to reroute all transportation funds to Democrat counties, the lawmakers down in Annapolis have found a new way to take money out of our pockets. Specifically, pockets that have a lithium-ion battery and a small tank filled with propylene glycol and pharmaceutical-grade nicotine. That’s right, an e-cig tax.
The bill, HB 861, would essentially tax e-cigarettes and vaping devices the same way as traditional tobacco products. From the proposed bill:
The tobacco AND ELECTRONIC SMOKING DEVICE tax rate for cigarettes is:
(1) $1.00 for each package of 10 or fewer cigarettes;
(2) $2.00 for each package of at least 11 and not more than 20 cigarettes;
(3) 10.0 cents for each cigarette in a package of more than 20 cigarettes;
(4) 10.0 cents for each cigarette in a package of free sample cigarettes.
(b) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, the tobacco AND ELECTRONIC SMOKING DEVICE tax rate for other tobacco products is 30% of the wholesale price of the tobacco products.
This bill was so bad that the sponsor and supporters of the bill even admitted to it during the hearings. From Gregory Conley:
Side Note: This is why I look forward to live streaming of hearings in Annapolis.
So why was this bill so poorly written? Just look at the tax structure. When you purchase liquid for an e-cigarette, you purchase a bottle of fluid to fill the tank. These bottles generally come in 15 and 30 milliliter sizes. These bottles have varying nicotine concentrations: 0, 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 milligrams. The best estimates I have seen are that a regular cigarette contains about 1.5 milligrams of nicotine. There is no simple way to translate fluid volume to correspond to an individual cigarette.
Do you use nicotine levels to determine the tax rate? Do you use the fluid volume? Do you use how many potential inhalations of the bottle? Of course, the bill is silent on these issues. Perhaps it was too hard for them to figure out? Or maybe, Annapolis just thought up a new way to take money out of your pocket and didn’t want to get mucked down in the “details” and “facts.”
Let me tell you, I smoked for over 9 years. I had my first cigarette after a rough day on tower guard in Iraq. I would have preferred a beer, but this wasn’t Vietnam.
Many years later, my primary care doctor recommended that I try vaping. I finally gave it a shot over a year ago. I completely quit smoking cigarettes this last summer, replacing it with an electronic device. Smoker’s cough? Gone. Snoring? Gone. The ability to breath clearly? Restored.
If anything, legislative bodies should be promoting the transition of smokers to e-cigarettes. I have witnessed first-hand the health improvements from replacing incendiary cigarettes with an e-cigarette and if anything, their use should be promoted as a smoking alternative.
I know there are a few lawmakers (you know who you are) that also use e-cigarettes and I hope they are ready to stop this bill. Serious kudos to any legislator that pulls a Representative Duncan Hunter and vapes during discussions of this bill.
Eric is a former officer in the Republican Club of Frederick County and Frederick County Republican Central Committee between 2015 and 2018. Former guest host on WFMD and showrunner on WTHU. Avid gardener and food preserver. Graduated from Libertarianism to Anarchism as the corruption level in the state requires us to start over from scratch.