Montana - Oppose Increased Vapor Taxes | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Montana - Oppose Increased Vapor Taxes

 

January 22, 2019

Montana Senate
State Capitol
Helena, MT 59601

Dear Senator,

On behalf of the 9,593 members of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) in Montana, I urge you to oppose Senate Bill 96, which would amend the definition of “tobacco product” to include vapor products. 

Vapor products do not contain tobacco, and therefore should not be treated under the same taxes and regulations that govern tobacco.  In fact, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that not only are vapor products much safer than traditional tobacco products, but they also can play a key role in promoting public health by helping adult smokers switch to less harmful products.  Taxing and regulating nicotine products that contain no tobacco as traditional tobacco products will adversely impact this process.  Levels of taxation should reflect relative risk.

Moreover, taxes on tobacco and nicotine products are a notoriously poor way of raising revenue for the state.  Consumers can simply purchase these products in neighboring states with lower taxes, or on Indian Reservations.  As tobacco use declines, less revenue is raised, and politicians scramble to raise other taxes to fund their obligations.  It is a vicious cycle of tax increases. 

Instead of singling out particular industries, taxes should be low and broad-based.  The voters of Montana agree.  In November 2018, they voted against an increase in tobacco and vapor taxes.

Passage of Senate Bill 96 would represent significant government overreach, impede public health progress, and fail to raise significant revenue.  It would stifle innovation in the vapor industry and hurt the goal of harm reduction.  It should be rejected.

Sincerely,
 

Thomas A. Schatz

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