Monday, January 12, 2015

New York Call To Action: NY State Bills threaten consumer choice and subject e-cigarettes to tobacco taxes

(Updated 01.26.2015)
(Updated 01.14.2015)

Once again, vapers in New York State are being threatened by multiple bills intended to severely impact the electronic cigarette industry and, by extension, dramatically limit consumer choice and increase the cost of these potentially life-saving products.  Representatives Rosenthal and Dinowitz and Senator Rivera have introduced bills that would impose a punitive 75% wholesale tax on “e-cigarette cartridges” and completely ban the sale of refill liquids.

Assembly Bill 296 & Senate Bill 722 would redefine a taxed “tobacco product” to include “e-cigarette cartridges,” subjecting them to New York State’s 75% wholesale tax on “tobacco products.”

The keen observer may spot that AB 296 & SB 722 only apply to “e-cigarette cartridges” and not e-cigarette liquid.  This is likely due to the introduction, yet again, of a bill (AB 635) to prohibit the sale of all bottled refill liquids.  While there is an exemption provided for instate manufactures that may allow liquid manufacturers in New York to continue doing business, vapers in New York State would still be unable to buy e-liquid products from retailers within the state.  An almost identical bill made its way through an Assembly committee last year.  

[Update - 01.26.2015]
Nineteen New York Assembly members have co-sponsored a bill (AB 2595) that would deceptively redefine the state’s definition of “smoking” to include the “use of an electronic cigarette” for the purpose of including vaping in New York’s smoking law.  Although this bill would provide an exemption for retail vapor stores, thousands of other businesses in the state would no longer be allowed to set their own indoor vaping policy.

[Update - 01.14.2015]
As we anticipated, Assemblywoman Rosenthal has introduced Assembly Bill 1496 which would alter the state’s definition of “smoking” to ban e-cigarette use under the state’s smoke-free air law.


**Please note, at this time, there are no hearings scheduled for any of these bills.  They have been introduced and referred to committees.  We will update this call to action as details arise.  We are also anticipating another attempt at prohibiting indoor use.

There is currently a fourth bill (AB 852) which is identical to SB 7139 from the 2014 session.  The purpose of this bill is to require vapor retailers to register with the Department of Health, thereby making them subject to compliance checks to insure retailers are adhering to the state law prohibiting sales to minors.  As this bill does not amend any definitions or propose new rules that might subject vapor products and retailers to damaging tobacco regulations, CASAA is currently taking a neutral position.  However, we will continue to monitor AB 853 as it moves through the legislative process and update this call to action if things change.

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