Utah - Oppose Huge Vapor Tax Increase | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Utah - Oppose Huge Vapor Tax Increase

March 7, 2019

Utah House of Representatives
State Capitol
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Dear Legislators,

On behalf of the 13,618 members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) in Utah, I urge you to oppose HB 252.  This deeply damaging legislation would impose cripplingly high taxes on innovative vapor products and would wreck tobacco harm reduction efforts in Utah.

HB 252 would tax vapor products at an 86 percent rate.  Taxes should be low, flat, and predictable, and singling out particular industries for discriminatory taxation is never sound fiscal policy.  But this legislation is especially poor policy because it would directly punish adult smokers who are considering reduced risk products.

A growing body of medical and scientific evidence offers strong proof that not only are vapor products much less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes, but also that vaping can play a key role for public health by encouraging adult cigarette smokers to switch to these new products.  Taxing vapor products at extraordinarily high rates will undermine a positive step for public health.  Moreover, the vapor industry disproportionately includes small businesses and entrepreneurs in Utah who can least afford this massive government overreach. 

Utahns can be proud of their state’s record as a business-friendly place with low taxes and a booming economy.  Those successes would be diminished by bills like HB 252.

Unfortunately, the public health community in the United States has been slow to realize the dramatic harm reduction potential of vaping.  Other countries’ health authorities, like Public Health England, actively encourage adult smokers to switch to these less harmful products.  Yet HB 252 would move Utah away from harm reduction.

More must be done to keep vapor products from minors.  But extreme taxes that discourage adult smokers from switching will do more harm than good.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Schatz

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