Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Call to Action! Maine Bill to Tax E-Cigarettes At Same Rate as Cigarettes -- HP 950 (UPDATED)

UPDATE: (5/15/2013): On  May 15, 2013, the Joint Committee on Taxation gave a Do Not Pass Recommendation to HP 950.  The bill is no longer a substantial threat, but action from Maine vapers is still important to ensure it is not brought back. 

UPDATE (5/11/2013): A public hearing was held on HP 950 (also referred to as LD 1326) on May 6, 2013 in Augusta, Maine. No action was taken on the bill, but a work session on the bill has been scheduled for Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at the State House (230 State Street in Augusta).

CASAA has had the opportunity to correspond with HP 950's sponsor, Rep. Megan Rochelo. Rep. Rochelo has indicated that it was not her intention in introducing HP 950 to tax sales of electronic cigarettes, and that she will be seeking out ways to amend her bill to ensure that e-cigarettes remain a non-tobacco product, and thus untaxed.

While still in opposition to the bill because of its effect on smokeless and dissolvable tobacco, CASAA is encouraged by Rep. Rochelo's forwardness. CASAA has suggested that Rochelo amend her bill to define "vapor products" as a non-tobacco product.  We will update this page when more information is available.

Maine: Bill to Tax E-Cigarettes, Smokeless Tobacco, and Dissolvables at the Same Rate as Cigarettes (HP 950)

[full text of HP 950] [legislative tracking]

If enacted, this bill would:

  1. Tax electronic cigarettes by redefining "tobacco products" under Maine tax law to include "products containing, made or derived from tobacco that are intended for human consumption by any means, or any components, parts or accessories of tobacco products." 
  2. Impose a wholesale tax on all smoke-free products (including e-cigarettes) that will be equivalent to the tax on a pack of cigarettes (currently $2.00). The Maine State Tax Assessor will be given the power to decide how this tax would be applied to e-cigarette disposables, liquid, mods, cartomizers, atomizers, batteries, etc. 
  3. Make it a crime punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a $1,000 fine for a Maine citizen to import more than one pound of e-cigarette products (see Title 36, §4404-A
  4. Require e-cigarette vendors to obtain a tobacco retail license to sell e-cigarettes (see Title 36, §4402
  5. Make it a crime punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a $1,000 fine for a Maine e-cigarette vendor to sell products to any retailer who does not hold a Maine retail tobacco license. (see Title 36, §4404-B)  
  6. Give law enforcement authorities the authority to seize e-cigarette products from citizens if they believe it to be contraband (i.e., it was obtained without paying the Maine tax). (see Title 36, §4404-B)
HP 950 has been referred to the Committee on Taxation, which is comprised of members of both the Maine Senate and House. No hearing has been scheduled. If you can attend the hearing or are in Maine and would like to offer your assistance in stopping this bill, please e-mail us  
Maine Citizens: In addition to contacting the below legislators, it is extremely important that you also speak to your own representatives.  Click here to find out who represents you in the Maine Legislature here.   

Please call or write the members of the Committee on Taxation below:

What to say:
1. You oppose HP 950 because it would impose a new, unwarranted tax on smoke-free electronic cigarettes.  Further note that HP 950 would tax not only e-cigarette disposables and liquid that contains nicotine, but also hundreds of "components, parts, [and] accessories" like kits, mods, atomizers, cartomizers, and even batteries.

2. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette or smokeless tobacco has changed your life.

3. The purpose of increasing cigarette taxes has been to cover governmental healthcare expenditure caused by smoking and to discourage smoking. But since electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and dissolvables are 98-99% less hazardous than cigarettes, there is no fiscal or public health justification for such a hefty tax.

4. HP 950 turns over substantial legislative authority to the State Tax Assessor without providing any guidance on how to tax "other tobacco products" the same as cigarettes.  How much tax would be charged on a $17 30 ml bottle of e-liquid?  A $50 e-cigarette kit?  A $200 e-cigarette kit?  A $5 cartomizer?  An $8 disposable?  No one knows, and it will be entirely up to the State Tax Assessor to make this choice.  

5. Tens of thousands of Maine consumers purchase e-cigarettes through online suppliers each year.  Under HP 950, the importation of any e-cigarette products that collectively weigh more than a pound would be a crime punishable by up to six months in jail.  This is bad public policy.

6. Since many/most e-cigarette sales are made online, enactment of this legislation would negatively impact businesses in Maine that sell e-cigarettes, as many consumers would choose to use out-of-state and international online suppliers.

7. Many smokers who switch to less hazardous electronic cigarettes do so because e-cigarettes are less expensive than cigarettes. Increasing the costs of e-cigarettes to that of cigarettes would discourage many smokers from switching to e-cigarettes. It could also encourage some e-cigarette consumers to go back to cigarette smoking.

Members of the Maine Legislature Committee on Taxation:

Comma delimited email list:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Heather Macklin (Committee Clerk)
Room 127, State House 
(207) 287-1552 

Senator Anne M. Haskell (D-Cumberland), Chair
31 Higgins Street
Portland, ME 04103
(207) 871-5808   

Senator Rebecca J. Millett (D-Cumberland)
12 Waumbek Road
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

Senator Douglas A. Thomas (R-Somerset)
306 Stream Road Ripley, ME 04930
(207) 277-3017

Rep. Adam A. Goode (D-Bangor) (Cosponsor)
P. O. Box 2681
Bangor, ME 04402
(207) 991-7000

Rep. Stephen S. Stanley (D-Medway)
614 Pattagumpus Road
Medway, ME 04460
(207) 746-5371

Rep. Nathan L. Libby (D-Lewiston)
12 Orange Street
Lewiston, ME 04240
(207) 399-7993

Rep. Matthew W. Moonen (D-Portland)
17 Pine Street #2
Portland, ME 04102
(207) 332-7823

Rep. Ryan D. Tipping-Spitz (D-Orono) (Cosponsor)
279 Main St
Orono, ME 04473
(207) 866-4333

Rep. L. Gary Knight (R-Livermore Falls)*, Ranking Minority Member (Cosponsor)
453 Moose Hill Road
Livermore Falls, ME 04254
(207) 897-2489

Rep. Paul Edward Bennett (R-Kennebunk)
6 Woodside Drive
Kennebunk, ME 04043
(207) 985-6269

Rep. Donald G. Marean (R-Hollis)
233 Bonny Eagle Road
Hollis, ME 04042
(207) 727-5527

Rep. Roger A. Jackson (R-Oxford) (Cosponsor)
50 Hebron Road
Oxford, ME 04270
(207) 539-4613

Rep. Joseph E. Brooks (U-Winterport)
325 Stream Road
Winterport, ME 04496
(207) 223-5041

Rep. Megan Rochelo (D-Biddeford) (Bill Sponsor -- Not a Taxation Committee member)
P. O. Box 2433
Biddeford, ME 04005
(207) 929-0110


Jack Mason said...

It seems like raising taxes is the only thing our government is doing nowadays, don't know when this will change.

Dennis Jeremy said...

Bad news for low income people who switched to electronic cigarettes only to save money, this will be very frustrating for them.

Lewis N. Clark said...

Since many/most e-cigarette sales are made online, enactment of this legislation would negatively impact businesses in Maine that sell e-cigarettes, as many consumers would choose to use out-of-state and international online suppliers. ecigs