The Boulder City Council has unanimously voted in favor of a new legislation that would ban all flavoured vaping products. Additionally, council members agreed to place an “emergency” ballot for a tax of 40% on vaping products, which they erroneously refer to as “electronic smoking devices”.
With the proposed measure a $9 e-liquid would carry na additional $3.60 tax.
Councilwoman Cindy Carlisle expressed her disappointment at the fact that cigarettes were not included in the tax measure, rightly calling the proposal a “half measure.”
While Colorado’s state tax is of approx 20 cents for a 20-packet, Boulder has no city-level tax on regular cigarettes. Meanwhile, as a result of the proposed measure on e-cigs, a $9 e-liquid would carry an additional $3.60 tax.
Besides sending the wrong message about the relative safety of the products, many public health experts fear that this discrepancy in taxes will discourage smokers from switching to the safer alternatives.
A counterproductive move
“Taxing vaping products, or other low-risk alternatives to cigarettes is a counterproductive tax. They reduce the price difference with lethal cigarettes, thereby giving less economic incentive to switch. By banning flavors and putting forth a hefty tax proposal, the city could is “convey[ing] an inaccurate message to the public about relative risks,” said David Sweanor, a renowned industry expert and chair of the Advisory Board for Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa.
“Trying to discourage a harmful behavior via coercion is not as effective, nor as humane, as doing so through empowerment,” he added. “Giving people viable alternatives, along with easy access to them, truthful information about them and ‘nudges’ such as significant price differentials is the better route to take.”
A change in the State of Colorado’s tobacco law set in place earlier this year, gives Colorado’s counties, cities and towns, the right to regulate nicotine products including e-cigarettes, beyond statewide restrictions.
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