Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Phil Scott have long shown support for a ban on flavoured vaping products which is already in place at the federal level. However, in recent weeks, taking menthol cigarettes off the market has become a new priority for Democrats in Vermont.
Chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Sen. Ginny Lyons D-Chittenden, who is the lead sponsor of the legislation, said that the “major pushback” from the tobacco industry has been focused on the menthol ban. “It’s difficult for them to realize that something they’ve been advertising as better than regular cigarettes are not better than regular cigarettes,” she said of menthol products.
In fact, a source familiar with the tobacco industry’s lobbying strategy in Vermont has who requested anonymity in order to be able to speak the truth, has pointed out that tobacco companies have been focusing their efforts on convincing lawmakers to remove the menthol ban from the bill.
Local tax on e-cigs twice as much that on cigarettes
In 2019, Vermont lawmakers had proposed a 92% wholesale tax on vaping products and other electronic devices, in the hope that it would generate $1.1 million in revenue in the fiscal year 2022. All revenue generated would be deposited into the State General Fund.
The “Tobacco Products Tax” expanded the existing definition of “other tobacco products” to include: e-cigarettes, vaping hoodies, vaping liquid cartridges, e-liquids and repair parts.
Meanwhile, many public health experts are worried that this tax will ultimately increase the number of local smokers. Research keeps indicating that vaping products are significantly safer than combustible cigarettes and also that they are the most effective smoking cessation tools to date. Hence they keep pointing out, any taxes imposed on the products should be relative to their risks.
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