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Nicotine Tax: Vapers Apply Pressure & Some Democrats Have Doubts


The proposed tax on vaping and other nicotine products isn’t a done deal yet. House Democrats continue to wrestle behind the scenes with the massive tax and spending bill that will fund President Biden’s “Build Back Better” infrastructure and social agenda—and some appear to be nervous about supporting the nicotine tax, which attempts to tax low-risk nicotine products like vapes at the same rate as deadly products like cigarettes.

CASAA has issued a call to action that makes it easy for vapers and other tobacco harm reduction advocates to oppose the tobacco tax parity language. The call to action sends a prewritten message—which you can modify or replace—to your U.S. Representative and both Senators, asking that they oppose the unjust tax proposal.

The final vote on the bill by the whole House may not come until very late September, but the goal is to get the tobacco tax language removed as soon as possible.

Politico reported this morning that Republicans attacked the proposal yesterday during markup debate (when a bill’s language is settled), and that “several Democrats also aren’t keen on the idea.” The publication says those Democrats are “worried it would predominantly pinch lower-income people and people of color, who smoke in larger numbers.”

Although not the argument some vapers might prefer, the social justice concerns over tobacco taxes are valid. Some Democrats have backed away from supporting previous bills that disproportionately affect black smokers. And President Biden promised as recently as this week that he would never support a new tax on people earning less than $400,000 a year. (Most smokers and vapers are not from high income brackets.)

The Politico article mentions that South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, a member of House Democratic leadership, criticized and skipped a vote last year on a bill that would have banned flavored tobacco and taxed vapes because of similar concerns.

“Senior Democrats expect similar opposition” to the current tax proposal, says Politico.

The fact that some Democrats are skittish about the tax should encourage vapers to pour on the opposition, messaging representatives and senators (through the call to action) and calling their offices. Tell them you oppose the tax parity language in the Build Back Better bill.

It’s crucial that large numbers of vapers take action immediately to object to the nicotine tax, because once it’s locked into the final tax and spending bill, few if any Democrats will vote against the bill. Since Democrats have the ability to pass the bill with no Republican support, the tax proposal must be stopped before the bill’s final language is settled.

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