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March 1, 2016

Utah is considering three proposals aimed at regulating or taxing e-cigarettes and tobacco products. Two of the proposals would create a new 86 percent tax on electronic cigarette products, while another proposal would increase the age limit required to purchase and use tobacco and related products, such as e-cigarettes and vaping products, from 19 to 21. E-cigarettes and vapor products do not contain any tobacco, so they should not be regulated in the same way.

Opponents of the proposals, including the Utah Smoke-Free Association, say the tax is regressive and “will force over 75 retail and liquid manufacturers to close down and file bankruptcy, plac[ing] over 850 Utah residents on the unemployment line.”


A similar situation occurred in Washington, DC in 2015, when the city government enacted a 67 percent excise tax on electronic cigarettes, e-liquids, and other vaping products. Research shows the increase harmed small businesses in the region and forced many shops to close or consider closing, according to a November 2015 report by The Daily Caller.


Supporters of the bills in Utah say higher taxes will help deter young people from vaping and that the provision is necessary to “try to keep the next generation from being addicted to tobacco.” Persons under the age of 19 are already unable to purchase e-cigarettes and vapor products in Utah. A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found only 3.2 percent of adults who have never smoked cigarettes have tried an e-cigarette.


CDC has acknowledged research examining the health consequences of e-cigarettes and vaping has not definitively shown there are any health consequences linked to the regular use of these products, and other studies show levels of intoxicants in e-cigarettes are 9–450 times lower than levels present in tobacco cigarette smoke.


While e-cigarettes and vapor products do not contain tobacco, they do contain nicotine. Nicotine is commonly used in many smoking cessation products, which are often used by current and former smokers to quit or cut down on traditional cigarette smoking. Studies have shown vaping and e-cigarettes have been used effectively to help people across the country quit smoking tobacco products, improving the health of countless Americans.


Imposing bans and unnecessary taxes on e-cigarettes and vaping products is neither sound tax policy nor wise health policy.

Nothing in this Research & Commentary is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Link Majority of Vaping-Related Hospitalizations to THC: Welcome
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