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Vaping tax bill advances to Senate

By Rebecca Hanchett, LRC

A bill that would raise $49.9 million in new revenue over the next two fiscal years through a new wholesale tax on vaping products and increased taxes on some other tobacco products has cleared the Kentucky House.

House Bill 32 sponsor Rep. Jerry T. Miller, R-Louisville, said a portion of the funding would come from adding vaping products to the list of tobacco products subject to a state tobacco excise tax of 25 percent of the wholesale price under the bill. Most remaining revenue would come from doubling the excise tax rate per unit and weight on snuff and chewing tobacco.

Traditional cigarettes would not be subject to a tax increase under the bill.

The legislation came to a vote in the House several weeks after the federal government raised the minimum age to buy cigarettes and vaping products to 21.

Miller said during his testimony on the bill earlier this month that he expects HB 32 to reduce use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices--most of which have been shown to carry nicotine-among youth.

"The products that children are abusing are truly a crisis," Miller told the House before today's vote on HB 32. He recalled watching a local news story that revealed the use of vaping products among high school youth in Bullitt County is up between 200-300 percent. Among those interviewed for the story, said Miller, was a school resource officer who had lost his father to lung cancer.

"(The SRO is) quoted as saying, 'Vapes were a way to get off cigarettes, but I tell you, they're worse than cigarettes,'" Miller said, adding "the most effective way to attack underage use is through raising the price."

An amendment to the bill sponsored by Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah, and approved by the House both clarifies the definition of tobacco products and restores language clarifying that the Kentucky General Assembly recognizes increasing taxes on tobacco products should reduce consumption of such products.

HB 32 passed the House 75-17. It now advances to the Senate for consideration.

This story was posted on 2020-02-26 18:56:26
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