Tuesday, June 25, 2013

URGENT Call to Action! Massachusetts Bill to Impose 90% Tax on E-Cigarettes -- HB 2593 (UPDATED!)

UPDATE (6/25/2013): Today the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Revenue held a hearing on HB 2593.  Several vapers and vendors, as well as CASAA Director Karen Carey, spoke against the bill.  After the meeting, the attendees had a meeting with HB 2593's primary sponsor, Rep. Jonathan Hecht.  During this conversation, Rep. Hecht indicated that it is his intention to tax e-cigarettes. 

No vote was taken on HB 2593.  Continued action against this bill is still needed!  In addition to contacting the below legislators, vapers should contact their own representatives.  Also, letters to the editors of their local newspaper(s) can help a great deal. 

UPDATE (6/24/2013): CASAA relied on an inaccurate interpretation of HB 2593 in our original Call to Action.  Massachusetts currently taxes smokeless tobacco at 90%, and because HB 2593 would define e-cigarettes as "smokeless tobacco,"  the tax applied to e-cigarettes would actually be an outrageous 90%! 

Massachusetts: Bill to Tax E-Cigarettes & Smokeless Tobacco at 45% -- HB 2593

[full text + legislative tracking]

If enacted, this bill wold:
  1. Tax electronic cigarettes (including those that do not contain nicotine) by redefining "smokeless tobacco" under Massachusetts tax law to include any product "containing, made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption . . . or any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product." 
  2. Expand Massachusetts' unwarranted and punitive 90% wholesale tax on smokeless tobacco like snus to also tax e-cigrettes and dissolvables at the same rate.   E-cigarettes are not currently taxed under Massachusetts law, but enactment of this bill would result in e-cigarettes being taxed.  The Massachusetts Department of Revenue will be given the power to decide whether this tax would be applied to e-cigarette disposables, liquid, mods, cartomizers, atomizers, batteries, etc. 
  3. Require e-cigarette vendors to obtain a tobacco retail license to sell e-cigarettes and comply with the same regulations that apply to a seller of real cigarette. Retailers who mix their own e-liquid may also need to acquire a manufacturers license.
  4. Provide that if Massachusetts raises its tax on cigarettes, then the tax on e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco will automatically be raised as well.
If you are from Massachusetts, please also contact your representative and senator in the Massachusetts Legislature and tell them that you're an e-cigarette or smokeless tobacco user, you vote, and you don't want the unnecessary tax hike in HB 2593 to become law.

Please call, write, or fax the members of the Massachusetts Joint Revenue Committee below:

1. You oppose HB 2593 because it would impose a new, unwarranted tax on smoke-free electronic cigarettes. Further note that HB 2593 would tax not only e-cigarette disposables and liquid that contains nicotine, but also permits the taxation of 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 smoke-free tobacco product has changed your life.

3. Explain that 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. Tell them that this year, committees in the Maine, New Mexico, and Delaware legislatures soundly rejected bills with similar broad redefinitions of "tobacco products." 

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

6. 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 Massachusetts Joint Committee on Revenue

Comma delimited e-mail list:

Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues (D) (Chairman) (parts of Bristol and Plymouth)
Room 213B
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1114
Fax: 617-722-1498

Sen. James E. Timilty (D) (Vice Chair) (parts of Bristol and Norfolk)
Room 507
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617 722-1222
Fax: 617-722-1056

Rep. Jay R. Kaufman (D) (Chairman) (parts of Arlington, Lexington, and Woburn)
Room 34
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2320
Fax: 617-722-2415

Rep. Timothy J. Toomey Jr (D) (Vice Chair) (parts of Cambridge and Somerville)
Room 238
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2380
Fax: 617-626-0668

Sen. John F. Keenan (D) (parts of Norfolk and Plymouth)
Room 413B
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1494
Fax: 617-722-1055

Sen. Marc R. Pacheco (D) (parts of Plymouth and Bristol)
Room 312B
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1551
Fax: 617-722-1074

Sen. Thomas P. Kennedy (D) (parts of Plymouth and Bristol)
Room 109E
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1200
Fax: 617-722-1116

Sen. Michael R. Knapik (R) (parts of Hampden and Hampshire)
Room 419
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1415
Fax: 617-722-1506

Rep. James Arciero (D) (parts of Chelmsford and Littleton and Westford)
Room 34
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2320

Rep. Christopher G. Fallon (D) (parts of Malden)
Room 236
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2430
Fax: 617-722-2436

Rep. James M. Cantwell (D) (parts of Marshfield and Scituate)
Room 22
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2140
Fax: 617-626-0835

Rep. Mark J. Cusack (D) (parts of Braintree, Golbrook, and Randolph)
Room 544
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2637
Fax: 617-626-0159

Rep. Ryan C. Fattman (R) (parts of Bellingham, Uxbridge, Sutton, Blackstone and Millville)
Room 443
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2460
Fax: 617-626-0176

Rep. Kate Hogan (D) (parts of Hudson, Maynard, Stow and Bolton)
Room 166
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2692

Rep. Randy Hunt (R) (parts of Barnstable, Bourne, Mashpee, and Sandwich)
Room 136
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2396
Fax: 617-626-0218

Rep. Paul A. Schmid III (D) (parts of Fall River, Freetown, and Westport)
Room 473F
Boston; MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2210
Fax: 617-626-0267

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