House Revenue and Taxation Committee Vote No to Utah’s Proposed 86.5 Percent Tax

Photo by The Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by The Salt Lake Tribune

A large tax, amounting to 86.5 percent, on e-cigarettes was proposed in Utah, but after a debate that included even high school students, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted 7-5 to send HB333 to interim study.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Ray (R-Clinton) was disappointed. He told the news site that he’ll “pound it until I wear them down.”

Other non-cigarette tobacco products in Utah are taxed at the 86.5 percent, and Ray says that the bill would reduce vaping “among price-conscious youth.” He told the committee that “e-cigarettes are a tobacco product. It contains nicotine, and nicotine is derived from the tobacco plant. He argued that tobacco companies who have “basically killed off their clientele” are aiming to addict the next generation via e-cigarettes.

About 300 high school students with Students Against Electronic Vaping came to the capitol to support the bill, which Shilo Platts of the Utah chapter of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association wasn’t happy with. He told the Tribune, “”We don’t agree with using children as political props, and today’s tactics by Representative Ray unfortunately quite frankly represent an entirely new low.” Some students said that e-cigarettes were a “gateway drug” of the generation, and Ray has previously said that the vaping industry was a “scumbag industry.”

Platts and others argued that e-cigarettes are “categorically different than other products, and said some do not contain nicotine,” the Tribune reported.

Legislators who voted against the bill said that they don’t believe the taxes will solve youth vaping problems, and they weren’t sure it was their obligation to “replace parents with a tax increase.”

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