Amongst other things, the state of Kentucky is sadly known for its high smoking rates. The southeastern state has a large tobacco industry, and has historically had low taxes on cigarettes. As it stands the state charges 60 cents a pack, whereas most states set it between $1 and $2.50, with New York imposing an eye-watering $4.25 levy.
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Subsequently, last Monday, Kentucky Republicans unveiled a plan that will make considerable changes to the way the state will tax services and income. Senate President Robert Stivers, apologetically acknowledged that some will view this proposal as nothing but a tax increase. “You can couch it however you want to,” said Stivers, a Manchester Republican. “It does generate positive revenue.”
As part of this planned revenue proposal, the 60 cents per pack tax rate on regular cigarettes will be increased to $1.10 per pack. Sadly, the plan includes e-cigarettes with tobacco products and therefore these safer alternatives will be taxed at the current 15% rate.
The danger in not differentiating between e-cigs and deadly cigarettes
Sadly, despite all the data indicating that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, this revenue plan will change the definition of “tobacco products” to include electronic cigarettes. Therefore the difference in health risk will not be reflected in the way the products are to be taxed.
Public health experts have long been pointing out the detrimental effects on public health, that such initiatives have been having. Labelling the proven safer alternatives as tobacco products when they are not, and taxing them in the same way as their deadly counterparts sends the wrong message to the public, and may stop smokers from considering the switch that could ultimately save their life.
Read Further: Courier Journal