The WA Bill That Wouldn’t Die

Only in the state of Washington would a bill so flagrantly foul as to enact a 95% tax on vapor products find support for consideration three times within a two year period. HB 1645 is the newest monstrosity that will grace the House Committee on Commerce and Gaming on Monday at 1:30pm.

Last year, the state of Washington also proposed a 95% tax hike on vapor products. The legislation was met with a multitude of opposition, and crowds of vapers on the front steps of the capitol building. Vapers were unhappy with just an increase in taxation, so why would Washington state legislators believe they wouldn’t be facing similar opposition to a bill that is grotesquely more destructive to the industry? Even worse is the fact that the enactments of HB 1645 stem from Governor Jay Inslee’s budget proposal, which means that even if shot dead in committee this time around it would not be entirely out of the question to be proposed a fourth time until the state session has ended.

Washington state has assuredly acquired the habit of introducing this type of legislation to attempt to fill the holes in their budget gap. Not only does HB 1645 propose to nearly double the price of e-liquid, but also attacks virtually all of the normal business practices of small vapor shops.

HB 1645 proposes to ban sampling, which allows consumers to find enjoyable flavors without having to potentially spend thousands of dollars purchasing a multitude of products in an attempt to find a good match for them. I’ve seen the effect of sampling bans first hand. Smokeless Smoking in Bloomington, MN was once the host of a myriad of classes on battery safety and re-build education. They had recently spent over $100,000 to upgrade their store to accomodate more lounge space. Vapers could walk into the store and sit with quite a few of their colleagues and discuss anything under the rainbow that would pass along helpful information. Since sampling has been banned in Bloomington, MN the store has become a desolate open area of space. Even customers that are considering purchase are forced 25 feet away from the entrance. It took decades of goading and bullying to prove to the general public that smoking should not be allowed indoors, but only 1 night of false pretenses by a group of 7 city council members to kick vaping out the door.

The bill also bans online sales of vapor products to Washington residents. Online sales represents part of the history of vaping. Many-a-time the most exciting part of the day for vapers is seeing the mail man walking up to their porch with their long awaited vape-mail. Since electronic cigarettes are such a new and growing industry, online sales not only allow consumers to expand their variety of products, but also gives convenience to vapers that are not in an area that a brick and mortar shop could feasibly operate. Elimination of interstate commerce in the attempt to keep the sales of any product in state is outlandish!

HB 1645 also proposes unique packaging and labeling requirements. While this legislation seems like a good idea, the FDA deeming regulations will more than likely supercede any labeling and packaging requirements. Individual state laws on labeling create confusion and expenses to companies. If 50 different states have 50 different laws, then a team of experts in labeling laws would be necessary for vape shops just to keep track of what has to go where. Again, child resistant cap laws seem like a good idea on the surface. However, many companies do not understand that there are federal standards (PPPA) that would need to be adhered to. Just because your bottle does not have a straight screw-off cap, does not mean that your bottles adhere to these federal standards. The more states that pass this law, the more difficult and expensive it will be to acquire the necessary bottles. This is a dilemma that needs to be handled at the manufacturing level.

Most importantly, this bill will eliminate artisan jobs due to flavor bans. Flavored e-liquids make up an overwhelming majority of the e-liquid market, and allows adult consumers to enjoy vapor products. Banning flavors flies in the face of requesting increasing tax revenue from this industry. How many vape stores would remain open if they were only allowed to carry tobacco, menthol or mint flavors? It’s a law that would crush the entire industry in the state of Washington and send every vaper back into the cigalike era. Vapers are an extraordinary group of people. They took an entire industry and have not only picked apart every aspect of the industry they disliked, but also created the necessary solutions to those problems. Now, legislation promises to take back all of the technological advancements created by consumers.

Even more unreasonable than all of these laws combined is the rationality that HB 1645 is being supported by. The bill reads that it “is in relation to the youth substance use prevention associated with tobacco and drug delivery e-cigarettes and vapor products”. That’s correct, the reason that adult consumers will have electronic cigarettes ripped from their hands is to protect a group of people that the e-cig industry can not either market or sell to. How do you make illegal more illegal? If enforcement is an issue, than deal with enforcement. If the issue is money, then tell the American people that it is about money. I challenge any legislator to put across a bill that bans electronic cigarettes based solely upon the merits of electronic cigarettes. But, to de-incentivise and limit the availability of a legal adult product with no legal basis means someone’s moral compass is broken. And, the fact that they’ve garnered enough support among other legislators to introduce this bill means that that someone is really good at skirting the facts on electronic cigarettes.

For more information on HB 1645, and how you can get involved, please visit www.casaa.org .

Tim is Mt Baker Vapor's resident creative weirdo. He writes, composes music, draws, designs, produces podcasts, investigates, and blows the trumpet for the Common Man.

19 thoughts on “The WA Bill That Wouldn’t Die

  1. Oregon is already almost gone, we must stand against their lunacy here in WA. There are no second chances here. If we lose vape now, we won’t get it back.

  2. The Washington State legislature has been listening to Big Tobacco. Heard them comment closed systems were safer, which is a standard Big Tobacco line. (and if they ever pulled their death sticks off the market, maybe I’d believe they care about my health.) I tried pointing out closed systems do not work for smokers in most cases, because I don’t want cigalikes to be the only thing around, no matter how much simpler that might seem to simpler minds.
    The maddening thing is teenagers, as usual, are getting their vapes from gas stations, not the more expensive vape shops that won’t sell to kids. So Washington needs to understand that protecting cigalikes while slapping down vape shops and online sales will NOT appease vapers, or help smokers switch.

    1. Thank you for speaking out about this! You make some very valid points. I definitely think legislators need to consider all sides of the story before limiting the availability of something that is proving to improve people’s health. There was recently a study released providing evidence that a tank system is the most effective for quitting tobacco, rather than the cigalikes. They need to listen to unbiased science!

  3. I’ve been tryng to prep companies to deal with this issues for years and do you think anyone would listen to me then…
    Nope everyone said it’ll never happen I was dreaming so I did my own thing and prepared myself and have a lot of ways and material to prevent this from happening but I guess it comes down to people wanting to listen to solutions instead of fighting for a right…
    Anyway best of luck I hope you guys work it out over there.
    It’s been a mission here and continues to be a challenge but We are ready to make some changes now before anyone else messes things up again.
    Our State was the first to ban them outright in any country because of their knee jerk reaction to Ecigs and now I’m gong to make them look as stupid as the decision was to ban them.
    All they wanted was a pat on the back and to be seen as enforcers.
    You just have to know how to play their game if your interested in saving your business.
    It’s taken me 7yrs of prep work and a ton of cash which I’m not about to lose becasue of some desk jockey that knows nothing about the industry or our products.
    I don’t know how you are being Taxed on this and Id like to see this tank system study which is a new one to me being the most effective means of quitting if someone has a link to this feel free to share it with me thanks.

  4. I live in northern California about 30 miles south of redding. The city of redding has banned vaping indoors. Although I buy most of my juice from mt baker vapor. I still like to go to the local vape shop and try different flovors. I like to support the local vape shop but if I can’t try the flovors I will buy online because I get a better deal from mt baker vapor. This new propose laws are stupied. It’s not about health but about money

  5. Will the hypocrisy never cease? Those in the public trust should be required to say what they mean, “Too many people are quitting cigarettes and vaping and we are losing a lot of money from taxes which were initially sold to the public as incentive for people to quit smoking cigarettes. So, now we are just going to make up some excuse we think sounds good.”

    Most medical professionals I have heard from describe nicotine delivered in noncombustible non-tobacco forms as being as safe as caffeine. Perhaps we need to ban selling caffeinated drinks to minors and place a 95% tax on coffee and tea.

    I mean, what harm could an outrageous tax on tea cause in America?

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, John. Please consider joining CASAA and becoming active in the fight against unfair legislation across the United States. We need passionate voices like yours.

    2. Yeah. They’ll never tax, nor not allow taxation without representation in ‘murica. Hey, here’s an idea. Could we all dump gallons of juice on the streets of Washington?

  6. It amazes me how utterly asinine politicians and their ilk can be. They are surrounded by sycophants that assures them that every stupid thought they have is brilliant. This situation, however, is so utterly stupid it boggles the mind. I don’t understand who in the hell would lobby for this. If it’s only for increased revenue, say so. Don’t ruin an industry that has saved my life, and many others. It’s hard to believe that no sane voices could penetrate this sycophantic echo chamber.

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