Monday, March 11, 2013

Utah Bill to Tax E-Cigarettes and Ban Online Sales -- HB372 (DEFEATED)

DEFEATED! Utah: 86% tax on e-cigarettes & online sales ban (HB372)

[link to HB372]

[legislative tracking]

[our testimony in opposition]

If enacted, this bill would have:

  • Redefined "tobacco product" in Utah's tobacco tax code to include e-cigarettes and e-cigarette cartridges.  As a result, e-cigarettes would be taxed at 86% manufacturer's price. (Section 1)
  • Banned sales through the mail and Internet of nicotine-containing products by requiring face-to-face transactions. There would have been no way, including age verification at the time of ordering or shipment, for legal Internet sales to take place in Utah. (Section 7) 
  • Disallowed sampling in e-cigarette stores by prohibiting vendors from giving away products to customers of legal age. (Section 8)

UPDATE (3/11/2013): The Utah House of Representatives voted NO on HB 372, which would have imposed an unnecessary tax on e-cigarette sales.  CASAA would like to thank its members in Utah and nationwide for stepping up.  Over 40 vapers attended the bill's committee hearing on March 6th, and the bill's sponsor, Representative Paul Ray, stated on the floor that the bill was generating a lot of e-mails in opposition.

UPDATE (3/6/2013): This evening the Utah House Health and Human Services Committee voted to pass HB372 out of committee with minor amendments.  The bill would still tax e-cigarette products containing nicotine at an exorbitant 86% of manufacturer's price.

Action is needed by vapers in Utah and beyond to stop this bill from passing the House of Representatives. This bill must be voted on by March 11, 2013 for it to be possible to go to the Senate.

Members of the Utah House of Representatives:

Please e-mail the members of the Utah House of Representatives and thank them for defeating HB372.  Briefly tell your story about how e-cigarettes changed your life and remind them that you believe e-cigarettes should not be taxed like traditional tobacco products.

Utah citizens should take special care to interface with their own representative about how they voted on HB372. 

Comma delimited lists:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


SLC Fraziers said...

I had a very nice conversation with Rep Redd who is a physician by trade. He did not understand why the sponsor would be working so hard to make the products inaccessible and expensive since the data shows the lack of harm (which I told him we couldn't figure that out either).

cpd9468 said...

Emailed all reps...hope it helps!

Mike Neff said...

I am four Months without purchasing or using any tobacco product. I was addicted to cigarettes and have been for 10+ years. Due to the lower price of e-cig equipment and juice, I have been able to put more money towards bills and healthcare for my family.
If the 86% tax increase does take affect, it will make a huge financial burden on my life.

Matt Seely said...

The e-mails for Paul ray and Ronda Menlove are incorrect. They should be,

Will O'Brien said...

What these Utah POLITICIANS are trying to do to the users of ELECTRONIC cigarettes is just garden-variety POLITICAL EVIL. Electronic cigarettes are saving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives, including mine. I have not smoked tobacco in ONE HUNNDRED AND SIXTY DAYS, after having been a heavy smoker for more than 47 years. For the first time in many years, my lungs are clear and almost completely healed from all those years of heavy tobacco use.I haven't polluted the air with the poisons of tobacco smoke in almost 6 months! None of this would have been possible without ELECTRONIC cigarettes! Who are these Utah POLITICIANS working for, the BIG TOBACCO COMPANIES & THEIR POWERFUL LOBBYISTS in Washington, DC? This is just rapaciously confiscatory government at its evil worst!!!

Geoff said...

Please don't re-use this post VERBATIM as it will dillute the message, but this is what I just emailed that list of officials. Even for non-residents I would encourage voicing your opinion in a similar manner.


eCigarettes and ePipes have allowed my wife and myself to stop smoking tobacco products. Same for at least 3 of our close friends. My father has smoked (and tried to quit) for 50+ years now and is hoping eCigarettes will allow him to finally quit. Peer smoking at his work makes it impossible for him to quit any other way (patches, gum, pills, nothing has worked).

If they had cost as much more (isn't it 86%) than they do now, no one I know would have tried them. They are expensive enough to start with as they are now. Between my wife and I we have spent around $400 on eCigarettes/ePipes and replacement parts over the last 2 years. While cheaper in the end than cigarettes ... the cost comes in at the front of the process and therefor dissuades many people who then stay with normal tobacco products.

If they had not been available online I might not even know of them as my exposure to them was through online ads on social media.

Research shows these to be FAR safer products than tobacco even if you consume the same amount of nicotine (and most people are able to lower or even eliminate their nicotine over time as I have).

The only reason I can see for this move is because tobacco stores/companies are feeling market pressures and they are losing companies. This country was founded on market pressures and capitalism. Protectionist laws that have no other basis than to protect existing markets at the expense of new markets are a horrible thing both in general and in the traditions of free markets in the United States of America. Especially in a state that seems to lean more towards a Libertarian mindset than many.

I strongly encourage you to not pass this legislation.

And for disclosure: I am NOT a resident of your state. I -am- one of your neighbors. And I'm in a state that will almost surely never pass this legislation ... so financially we would benefit on the borders if you pass this as you will force people who can to buy eCig products where they are not so highly taxed. I'm not in this for me. I'm in this for people who need an alternative to cigarettes in your state.

Nick DeLand said...

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend this meeting. If any of the respondents here will be attending, it might be worth asking the committee:

Since an electronic cigarette is typically not a complete unit; they are individually batteries and atomizers, will Duracell, Everready, Ray-O-Vac, and all other batteries be taxed at 86% as is proposed for the batteries used in this industry?

Will the pharmaceutical companies that produce NRT products like nicotine gum, nicotine inhalers, nicotine patches, be taxed at this rate?

Are the sponsors of this bill prepared to accept responsibility for taxing those who have made a switch from tobacco cigarettes to less harmful (by orders of magnitude) electronic-cigarettes right back to tobacco cigarettes? Such a move by the legislature will ultimately have a negative effect on public health and contribute to health costs of treating afflicted cigarette smokers.

Are they prepared to cripple the industry that is providing the most effective alternative to cigarette smokers by forcing these companies out of Utah? The industry is a multi-million dollar one and a foreseeable billion dollar one? This would have a negative impact on tax revenues. As Mark Cuban constantly reminds us on Shark Tank: "It is better to have 50% of a watermelon than 100% of a grape." Essentially, subjecting this industry to an 86% tax would make that potential tax revenue more on the scale of a grape seed. Of course, the tax revenue upside would be an increase in sales of tobacco cigarettes.

Nick DeLand

Dave said...

There are ways around this if the law makers really want to be douche bags. Technically they can only tax things that are considered 'nicotine' products. If cigarette could be bought as just the box without the cigarettes, there would be no tobacco product in the box. So essentially they can't tax the box itself as it's just a box, just it's contents if it contains products that fall under the tobacco umbrella.

It will get to a point where people could just buy the vapor devices, the tanks, the batteries, the pg/vg fluid and flavoring all at standard cost.

You would find people buying these, and then the only thing they would have to purchase is the nicotine itself. Taxing that at 86% of manufacturing costs could essentially save the market, making it so that users would have to add their own nicotine to the juice. Just a thought, but a possible way around it if they start going down this route.

These devices, in essence are no different than water vaporizers (like you would see on your bedroom nightstand if you were trying to help increase the humidity in your bedroom while you sleep)... Or fog machines. You get the point.

Keep the money from these sales out of the greedy hands of the US government and prevent big tobacco from winning.

Jeremy White said...

just sent my message to them

G. Kahn said...

Letter sent, "The State of Utah has always been known for protecting its citizens and relieving them from onerous, unnecessary tax burdens. So how does a proposed Bill like HB372 ever make it to the floor?

Electronic cigarettes are the only method that worked to get me to quit cigarettes. I smoked tobacco cigarettes for over 40 years. I tried ALL FDA-approved smoking cessation products and always returned to cigarettes, until I found electronic cigarettes.

Why on earth would you want to heavily tax a product that has proven very effective in reducing people’s dependence on cigarettes, a known carcinogen? If anything, I would think you would want to promote e-cigarettes to every citizen of your State still addicted to smoking cigarettes. That would make more sense than HB372.

My Psychiatrist even applauded my switch to e-cigarettes, saying that nicotine by itself is no more harmful than caffeine in reduced amounts and is not a carcinogen. In fact, he had studies showing that nicotine has demonstrated positive cognitive effects on humans. My Heart Dr. was VERY pleased with my switch to e-cigarettes. So again I wonder why Utah is trying to make this product less attractive to its residents?

For goodness sake, please let HB372 die a deserved death and allow your people to finally break the chain of cigarette addiction. Thank you for every consideration."

hawaiianboi425 said...

After reading everyones comments, it just makes sence! Politians are just puppets on a string with the tobacco lobbyists pulling their strings.

Nebula Vapor said...

The following email addresses bounced:

Here is the letter I wrote:

I smoked for 35 years. I started when I was 12 years old, because it was considered to be "cool," and the information about its harmful effects had not been released to the public at that time. We even had smoking areas at my middle school, and I was able to buy cigarettes anywhere I went.

My mother died in June last year from COPD. It was the saddest and most horrifying thing I'd ever witnessed. She looked like a baby bird, gasping for air. It broke my heart. I was diagnosed with COPD 2 years ago, stage 1. Neither of these things slowed me down. Smoking is a powerful addiction.

However, I heard about the Blu ecigs, and my daughter and I tried them. Mind you, I thought I would be like the woman in that commercial who smoked through a tracheotomy. I thought I would die with a cigarette in my hand.

I was wrong. From the Blu brand, I went to the eGo type battery, and, after 6 days of vaping, I couldn't stand the taste of my cigarettes. Almost 9 months later, I still have not had a cigarette. I have several medical conditions, and all of my doctors are super happy about me quitting, and they all feel that the nicotine itself is not going to harm me nearly as much as cigarettes were. My daughter also quit smoking, and before we knew it, my entire family became a non-smoking family. We had smoked for generations, but the cycle stops here.

I have tried every other form of smoking cessation on the market, from Chantix, which nearly caused me to commit suicide, to hypnotherapy, to patches. Nothing worked. Ecigs are my miracle.

I oppose HB372 because Section 1 would tax e-cigarettes at 86% manufacturer's price and Section 7 would make the sale of e-cigarettes online or through the mail a criminal offense. To ban these would be shoving many non-smokers back to smoking. To pass this act would be an act of murder of thousands of people. Every single one of you probably knows a smoker, and you are dooming them to their deaths by taking away this option.

Taxpayers are already spending billions of dollars on healthcare to take care of sick and dying smokers. We can't afford to keep doing this. You are forcing people who don't even smoke to spend their hard earned money on illnesses that are very preventable. Please stop.

Passing this law would also shove all ecig businesses out of your state, thus reducing your revenue, and putting a heavier burden on the rest of the state.

Please consider all of these things. Please behave as human beings who care about other human beings when you vote. It is the very least we can ask of you, and it is your job to represent the humans you were elected to represent. It would be criminal to do otherwise.

Daddy & Momma D said...

In the block of email addresses, change:

janderson to
anderson34 to
mkennedy to
layton to
etanner to
lifferth to
aromero to

They all came back undeliverable. I got the accurate emails from each of their profile pages.

Dave said...

I don't currently live in Utah, but would like to move back soon. I have vested interest in this and felt i had to do my part to email the above mentioned email addresses.

Unfortunately the email I wrote them was larger than the 4096 characters I can post here, I will post part of what I wrote tomorrow summarized but it's too late now.

Hopefully this bill dies, like we all know it should.

Vapezor said...

Big Pharmaceutical, that is the only reason.

Daddy & Momma D said...

Mine is over 10,000 characters too, so I cannot post here :-(

karyyl said...

Dear Utah Lawmakers,

As a Californian since 1956, I have had a fair few trips to and
through Utah, visiting relatives and canyons and Salt Lake City.
I cannot imagine any of the nice people I've met there or their
relatives sanctioning an effort to force me back to smoking now that I have
switched to e-cigs. Certainly my children, my mother, and my brother are
very proud of me for quitting smoking and want me to continue to vape
instead of smoking.

Smokers die from smoke inhalation, not nicotine. (And if, as Boomers
age, some fall asleep with combustible cigarettes when they could have
been using batteries instead of fire, there will be firefatalities that could
have been prevented.)

It cost me about $360 to learn how to use e-cigs well-enough to
finally quit smoking, this is a fairly-difficult learning curve, and it
has a LOT of cost up front. I finally quit smoking on Jan 1 of this year,
and I still have another month to go before I will START saving money
by not buying highly-taxed cigarettes.

In addition, I no longer create cigarette butts, and second-hand vapor
is as safe as sitting next to someone eating from a platter of fajitas – s
ome food flavors and oils in the air in about that amount.

I read that the proponent of the bill said e-cigs should be taxed
because companies that now sell deadly cigarettes are starting to
buy them. I am aware (as is Forbes magazine) that there are activists
who are “At War” with cigarette companies and are committed to killing them
off. If they don't want those companies to survive by selling nearly-harmless
smokeless alternatives that can save lives, why don't they just pass laws against combustable-cigarette companies buying up the small e-cig businesses?

The bill sponsors have misrepresented the impact of the proposed taxes
on the product. The specific taxes they propose would nearly eliminate
e-cigs from Utah. Trying to eliminate smokeless
alternatives that we are using to save ourselves, just to kill tobacco
companies, effectively makes us (and our children and grandchildren who
are exposed to our smoke, butts, and fire danger)
“collateral damage” in their private war.

I can breathe better, my children and grandchildren need me, and they
are safer around me, now that I have quit smoking by using e-cigs – please
do not add momentum to the movement to force me back to
combustable cigarettes.

Thank you for listening,

Chris Jackson said...

Letter has been sent. Hope it helps.

Nelson Phillips said...

It's way past time we took the fight to them...

True Story said...

Wow you people have done a great job!!
I just started on the e-cigs and plan to also help support such a great thing for everyone that has been stuck on cigarettes, and as we all know super high taxes to make the tobacco companies super rich. Since this has been ongoing for many, many years, I think they have had much more than their share in price gouging Americans, not to mention the millions of health problems and death they have also caused in this country. Even Utah banned cigarettes in public buildings about 15 years ago, so they should be all for this and actually require no tax to promote this by making a healthier state.

Methylaminorex said...

why on earth would "big Pharma" want to kill ecigs? You don't think the overbearing tobacco companies whose grasp on government is undesutable a mor likely canidate?

Kristin Noll-Marsh said...

Hi Methylaminorex,

In the past 3 1/2 years that CASAA has been fighting these attempted bans and taxes, we have never run into lobbyists or representatives from the tobacco industry trying to get e-cigarettes banned. If fact, recently the tobacco industry has invested in the e-cigarette market with its own products.

What we have run into are groups who receive millions in funding from Big Pharma (like the American Cancer Society, Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, American Lung Association, etc.) The pharmaceutical and anti-tobacco industries have the most to lose if smokers discover that there are safer alternatives available to smoking and that their only options aren't "quit or die."

If smokers switch to e-cigarettes, they are no longer on the quit/relapse cycle of using BP nicotine gums and patches that fail 96% of the time. They are also using a safer product that significantly reduces the likelihood they will need costly pharmaceutical treatments for smoking-related diseases in the future. With 400,000 people dying from smoking related disease ANNUALLY, millions more living with COPD and other chronic illnesses related to smoking and 2.5 million buying nicotine gums, lozenges, patches, Wellbutrin and Chantix to try to quit every year - e-cigarettes are a threat to keeping all of those Big Pharma customers.

If the concept of "safer tobacco & nicotine" catches on and socially acceptable, the anti-tobacco industry becomes obsolete and gone are all of those lucrative grants and BP funding.

Read any article about e-cigarettes and some "public health" group is trying to get them banned and/or strictly regulated. These health groups are well known to be completely "anti-tobacco." Obviously, the tobacco industry isn't backing these groups nor would these groups be supporting Big Tobacco.

So, when you "follow the money" is leads squarely back to the anti nicotine and tobacco zealots and their Big Pharma benefactor, not tobacco companies.

Now, that is not to say that the tobacco industry won't start to try to crowd out the smaller e-cigarette companies and control the market sometime in the near future. But that isn't who we are fighting right now.

~ Kristin

Greg Holbert said...

My mother in law was a smoker for many years. The only think that made her stop smoking filtered cigarettes was to change to an electronic version. She saw results and now is recommending them to her friends.

These products shouldn't be banned and the only reason that big tobacco is trying to get them banned is because people wouldn't use regular cigarettes after trying one of the electronic varieties.

I would recommend everyone emailing those representatives so we can show our support for electronic cigarettes!

Online Taxes

John Locke said...

There are lot of people who have left smoking through eCig you can also quite see the sigelei v5 and start leaving smoking for now.