Vaping in New York Could Get a Lot More Expensive

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to make it a lot more expensive to vape in the Empire State. The second-term Democrat has introduced a tax on e-liquid in his proposed budget for 2017.

The proposal is to tax e-liquid at 10 cents per milliliter, and applies to all e-juice, whether it contains nicotine or not. The tax would be levied at the wholesale level, and would take effect six months after the budget is approved by the state legislature.

“This is a matter of public health consistent with New York’s ‎long standing and successful smoking cessation efforts,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said. E-cigarettes have been sold in the U.S. for almost ten years now, and clueless politicians like Cuomo still haven’t figured out that vaping isn’t the same as smoking, and that it can be the very best smoking cessation tool.

Or maybe they do understand, and are just looking for political cover to recoup some lost cigarette taxes from the many smokers who have quit already. The governor’s estimate is that the tax will bring in $3 million in taxes in the next fiscal year.

During the last fiscal year, New York took in $1.3 billion in cigarette and tobacco taxes, but the governor’s budget division estimates that the take will decline this year to $1.2 billion, and continue to sink in the years to come.

Three million bucks won’t make up for a $100 million shortfall in cigarette taxes, but the governor is still keen to punish vapers and pretend it’s a health issue. He may even realize that the tax will simply force small businesses to close their doors when New York vapers turn to neighboring states and internet sales to find the same products for less.

The 40 percent wholesale tax introduced last fall in neighboring Pennsylvania was hyped by that state’s governor as a source of $13 million in future tax revenue. Instead it has forced over 100 businesses to close, putting people out of work, and eliminating the sales, property and payroll taxes that the state had been taking in from vape shops.

Paul Blair of Americans for Tax Reform says to expect more vape taxes. “By sheer number of threats in recent years, vapor products have been the number one targets for tax hikes of any product or type of tax imposed by states, including cigarettes,” Blair wrote earlier this month.

The New York proposal also includes a ban on indoor use in restaurants and any workplace that also bans smoking. That law is being pushed by Republican state Sen. Kemp Hannon of Nassau County, and backed by a coalition of “public health” groups and lobbyists, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, and the American Heart Association.

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