The Alaska Senate has passed a bill to tax Vape by a vote of 14 to 6. If the bill passes the House and is signed by the governor, the state will impose a 25% tax on wholesale and retail Vape products.
On May 16, according to media reports, the Alaska Senate passed a bill on Vape taxation by a vote of 14 to 6, which would impose a 25 percent tax on wholesale and retail e-cigarette products statewide. The bill, which was explicitly introduced by Republican Senate President Gary Stevens (R-Alaska), will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The tax and its enhanced penalty
The bill, in addition to imposing a 25 percent tax, would bring Alaska’s regulations in line with 2019 federal law by raising the state’s legal age for buying, selling, or distributing these products to 21, two years higher than Alaska’s current legal age.
This bill updating the legal age would ensure that the state enforcement program is in place, meaning that people under 21 could face fines of up to $150 if they are found in possession of nicotine-containing products. However, this is a reduction from the $500 fine initially proposed.
The initiative is aimed at reducing the problem of youth nicotine addiction in order to protect public health and safety. Supporters of the bill say it is in response to the rapid growth of nicotine use among young people and underscore the need for these measures.
Voices of opposition
Unbeknownst to them, some legislators disagree with the bill. Republican Senator Shelley Hughes (R-SC) felt that imposing a 25 percent tax and lowering the fine to $125 did not achieve enough and she voted against it.
She said she was reluctant to approve any tax until it passed the Senate, even arguing that:
“A $500 fine is more of a deterrent for high school students than a tax of a few dollars.”
Regarding the impact of this bill, an e-cigarette store clerk in downtown Alaska said young people’s willingness to buy the product would not be deterred even if the tax increased.
He said he started smoking in his teens and continues to smoke despite the increase in nicotine prices and taxes.
“If you’re addicted to something and you want it, you’re going to get it,”
He believes that prevention is the best way to keep young people away from nicotine products and that increasing taxes will not help solve the problem.
Now, this one bill will go to the House of Representatives for further discussion and consideration.