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WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

Tax equity bill will make e-cigarettes more expensive than cigarettes

The new Tobacco Tax Equity Act of 2023 1S. 2929: Tobacco Tax Equity Act of 2023,” GovTrack.us, [Online]. Available: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/118/s2929/text is a standalone bill that proposes the first-ever federal tax on vaping products. In it, senators outline plans for a weight-based tax on tobacco and nicotine products. If the bill is passed, it will double the federal tax on cigarettes and increase the tax on e-liquid, pipe tobacco, and moist snuff by unprecedented amounts. 

Senator Dick Durbin introduced the bill – which was co-sponsored by eight other Senate Democrats – on the 26th of September. “It’s time to hold the tobacco industry accountable and save generations of teenagers,”2Wyden, Durbin, Krishnamoorthi, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Reduce Tobacco Use in America,” U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, September 26, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/wyden-durbin-krishnamoorthi-colleagues-introduce-bill-to-reduce-tobacco-use-in-america Senator Ron Wyden, one of the co-sponsors, said. “That’s why I’m committed to closing tax loopholes on tobacco products by establishing a new tax on e-cigarettes and updating the federal cigarette tax rate to restore its public health impact.” 

As of now, vaping products in the USA are not subject to any federal taxes. This bill seeks to change that but, in an attempt to close tax loopholes, senators are disproportionately targeting e-cigarettes. The bill includes a proposed flat tax of $100 per 1,810mg of nicotine, which spells disaster for vapers all over the States. 

Here is a brief outline of the proposal, with examples.  

  • $100 federal tax per 1,810mg of nicotine
  • Extra $2.25 in taxes for a Juul pod, whereas a pack of cigarettes only costs $2 in taxes
  • Cigarettes will be almost five times cheaper than nicotine from other sources such as e-liquids and moist snuff
  • Extra $14 in taxes for a 5mL disposable vape

Nicotine pouches, which are proven to be less harmful than combustible tobacco products3S. Tosakoon, K. F. Romm, and C. J. Berg, “Nicotine pouch awareness, use and perceptions among young adults from six metropolitan statistical areas in the United States,” Tob Prev Cessat, vol. 9, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10246475/, are also included in the bill. In fact, the new bill will make a pack of 20 nicotine pouches cost an extra $2, not to mention any local taxes. 

Unsurprisingly, the bill is facing backlash. The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) is one of the organizations speaking out against the bill. Representatives claim that the senators behind the bill are “displaying willful ignorance about the tobacco risk continuum.”4US – Fight a Vapor Tax (HR 5715/S 2929),” CASAA, October 10, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://casaa.org/call-to-action/us-fight-a-vapor-tax-hr-5715/ Vapers are invited to write an email to their senator to express their thoughts on the CASAA website. 

The Premium Cigar Association (PCA) claims that different tobacco products “have unique economies, consumer demographics, and overall social and public health impacts. For this reason, they have always had distinct tax rates.”5Nothing Fair about The Tobacco Tax Equity Act,” Premium Cigar Association (PCA), September 2023. [Online]. Available: https://premiumcigars.org/news/nothing-fair-about-the-tobacco-tax-equity-act/ 

Given that e-cigarette use is “most prevalent among current smokers”6J. L. Pearson, A. K. Elmasry, H. A. Das, A. C. Villanti, and A. M. Glasser, “E-cigarette device and liquid characteristics and e-cigarette use behavior,” Nicotine & Tobacco Research, vol. 20, no. 9, pp. 1109–1118, 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5480094/ and, what’s more, even the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) admits that “e-cigarette aerosol generally contains fewer toxic chemicals than the deadly mix of 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes”7About Electronic Cigarettes (E-cigarettes),” CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Online]. Available: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html, we have to wonder why senators are targeting e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are a valuable smoking cessation tool, but they might fall out of favor if they become more expensive than traditional combustible cigarettes. 

If Durbin’s new bill is successful, we expect to see many vapers reverting to cigarettes. By massively inflating federal taxes for e-cigarettes, e-liquids, and nicotine pouches, senators could be pushing a generation of vapers toward cigarettes. 


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Lexi Burgess
Lexi Burgess
I keep my ear to the ground to report on Vaping, emerging health research, and new vape legislation. When the ever-changing landscape of the vape industry isn’t on my mind, I play badminton and read old horror novels.
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