Thursday, August 28, 2014

Call to Action: Michigan Legislators are Considering an Excise Tax on E-Cigarettes

9/19/14 URGENT Update:  SB 1018 is no longer on the agenda for Wednesday, September 24, 2014.  We will continue to update this Call to Action as more information becomes available.  The bill is still in play, and vapers still need to participate in the Michigan Call to Action, especially the CQ Roll Call campaign.

9/18/14  Update:   SB 1018 has been set for a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 12:30 pmRoom 210, Farnum Building, 125 W. Allegan Street, Lansing, MI 48933 (Scott Jones, Committee Clerk, 373-5307).  
  • Michigan vapers and harm reduction advocates are strongly encouraged to attend the committee hearing to offer testimony in opposition to SB 1018.  (As a sign of respect, we ask you to please refrain from vaping in the committee room.)
  • If you haven't already, please participate in the Michigan Call to Action below.

Michigan vapers need to act NOW to defeat SB 1018, a proposed "sin tax" on e-cigarettes and treatment of e-cigarettes as "tobacco products."

Earlier this year, RJ Reynolds promoted a small but punitive sin tax on e-cigarettes in North Carolina that was passed quickly and over the objection of consumers. It appears we have a similar situation brewing in Michigan where our information is that RJ Reynolds and Altria are brokering deals between themselves and then quietly lobbying legislators to get the tax passed.  

The large tobacco companies accept the concept of sin taxes and don’t have much of a problem agreeing to them or even actively lobbying for them. Of course, they don’t actually pay the taxes . . . we, the consumers do. Moreover, the tax structure they push favors the cigalikes they produce and imposes a heavier burden on sales of refill liquid, a product the tobacco companies don’t sell.

While Michigan consumers might regard fifteen cents per 1.5 milliliter of liquid as relatively modest for a "sin tax," the fact is that e-cigarettes shouldn't be subject to ANY "sin tax." They are already appropriately subject to a general sales tax. States shouldn't be looking to tax low-risk e-cigarettes to make up tobacco tax revenue lost by people making the switch to a safer alternative.

Moreover, rather than simply banning sales of e-cigarettes to minors, SB 1018 defines e-cigarettes (vapor products) and alternative nicotine products as "smokeless tobacco," and "smokeless tobacco" is defined as a "tobacco product." While this has the effect of banning sales to minors, it also brings into play a wide variety of other provisions regarding tobacco products. For state law purposes, e-cigarettes should not be considered tobacco products.

FIRST, CASAA has issued a new CQ Roll Call Campaign for Michigan vapers to express consumer opposition to a sin tax on e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco:

If you have a Michigan address, please take five minutes of your time to participate and share your views with your elected officials.  The draft letter is fully editable.  Please take the time to PERSONALIZE your letter by sharing your story.

SECOND, we are asking Michigan vapers to CALL members of the Senate Finance Committee to express opposition:

Senator Jack Brandenburg:  517-373-7670 or 866-229-4211
Senator Mark Jansen:  517-373-0797
Senator John Pappageorge:  517-373-2523
Senator John Proos:  517-373-6960
Senator David Robertson:  517-373-1636 or 866-305-2126
Senator Steve Bieda:  517-373-8360
Senator Rebekah Warren:  517-373-2406

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