Ban A Little Tax A Little

An increasingly popular, but alarmingly apathetic, opinion I’ve been hearing lately is being “ok” with little bans and taxes. I’m sorry I don’t have any more tactful words to express my view point on the subject. Saying that you are ok with laws that will only increase taxes a little, or only ban the use of vapor products in a few areas, is simply putting your head in the sand. Laws, once they are made, very rarely move backward toward liberty of the people unless they are challenged in court. When budget shortfalls affect legislative talking points, every tax is open to increase. It is incredibly easier to prevent a new law on the first go-around.

I’d like to quickly remind you of the rally for HB 1645 on Monday at noon at the capitol in Washington state opposing a decimating 95% retail tax, use ban, flavor ban and online sale ban. You can find information on the rally at https://www.facebook.com/pinklungbrigade .

Now, a bill as destructive as HB 1645 is going to garner attention from the vaping community, as it should! I hope every vaper, their friends, families and small businesses do as much as they can to let it be known how ludicrous and literally unsavory HB 1645 is, and how disgraceful it is to attempt to pass a law that will eliminate an entire industry from a state. But, if you were to take the flavor ban, the online sales ban away and reduce the extra 95% retail tax to a “modest” 5%, would this really be such a bad bill? I mean, you would only be increasing your order total by $.50 on a $10 purchase. Companies could continue to make just as many flavors that so many adult consumers enjoy. We could keep the ability to order from our favorite companies across the United States.

If you’re starting to be more agreeable to what I’ve mentioned in the previous paragraph, then you should think more critically. I’ve just done what many politicians do. They originally offer something so destructive that there’s no possible way that you could agree with me. But, I’ve lowered my standards to make it seem as if I’m offering an irresistible deal of the century. Did it make you forget about the sampling ban? While it doesn’t affect sales per se, it would largely influence your selectivity as a consumer. Imagine if you were just beginning to vape and you were to have to pay even $5 each time you would want to try a new flavor. Do you have $50 to spend trying new flavors when you could have spent that more wisely on one that will last you all month? Not to mention, Mt. Baker Vapor sends a free 5ml bottle of random or chosen flavored e-liquid with every order. You can kiss that goodbye with this bill. Did it also make you forget about the packaging requirements that businesses are scrambling to adhere to in other state?

Let’s also imagine a new vaper that comes in to purchase a $10 bottle of e-liquid, but now that bottle is $10.50 because of the new, more modest tax. The consumer reaches into his pocket and pulls out a ten dollar bill, and it’s all he has left until pay day. Well, he can no longer afford the 15ml of e-liquid. But, do you know what is less than $10 at the nearest convenience store? A pack of cigarettes is less than $10.

I’m completely in favor of business rights to choose whether to allow or disallow the use of any products that is not shown to be harmful to bystanders. If a place of business prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes, the consumer is allowed the opportunity to deal with it or take their business elsewhere. Then it is a choice of what is more important, vaping indoors or using their facilities. But, at least it is still choice. Let’s look at Illinois very quickly. In February this year, a bill was introduced to ban the use of electronic cigarettes everywhere traditional tobacco cigarettes are currently banned. After representative Kathleen Willis, who filed the bill, received a large amount of opposition and education on the subject, she has changed her mind on what the bill should include. The bill is purported to be amended to only include bans on school grounds and in state owned buildings this week. Rep Willis stated “…Everybody agrees that electronic cigarettes are a better alternative than regular cigarettes and we don’t want to discourage people from going and using electronic cigarettes.”.

I don’t know anyone that would oppose banning vaping on school grounds, but even banning use on general government property is a step in the wrong direction. The argument goes to whether the ban is implemented because of health concerns or simply based on ethics. Maybe, and I make that a big maybe, we shouldn’t be vaping in government buildings. But, should we really need a law for that? It’s like chewing gum in choir, you should just know better. And, if you consider government to be a business, then they have every right to ban vaping on their property.

Quote courtesy of http://www.sj-r.com/article/20150313/NEWS/150319702

Tim Mechling

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.

  • Excellent piece, and well-stated. We need to remain vigilant and we definitely need to increase our number of active, engaged vapers within our community. It is just a matter of time before bills like HB 1645 comes to YOUR State, and then you will have no recourse, but to stand up. Why settle? Why Wait?

  • TurtleGodfather says:

    New Jersey and other states proposed legislation to tax hybrid and electric cars due to lost taxes on gasoline. As more and more people switch to vaping, states are making less off of cigarette taxes. Every time a state raises the tax per pack they say it is to persuade people to quit. Bullshit!! They already have those monies spent.

  • Z says:

    I completely understand the need for individualization, however, if the vape community supports taxation at a small amount while simultaneously abhorring it, as you’ve stated above, where do we draw the line in acceptance and degradation?

    The boom in the industry is such that it would be asinine not to tax it, however, placing a proper decimal percentage and also treating the product as a separate idea and consumer device from tobacco is more appropriate than slinging ad hominem. It’s also entirely unregulated so we need to be honest on that. New age concepts do not sit similarly with old ones. 5% seems degrading – what are your thoughts on 1% flat taxing? I have done the math and a $30 purchase would be $33, not including sales tax.

    I also understand the concept of precedence and continuance, which creates potential for growing that 1% in the future, however, part of the controversy is on how those taxes will be sent back out, not necessarily paid in. This is noting what happens with traditional tobacco taxes (I won’t go into those details).

    The concept of freedom is well and good and placing bans seems aggrandizing and also falls under the idea of precedence and continuance for further banning not just in original ideology but in all around concept. Smart vaping would naturally keep vapor out of socially unacceptable areas (“Don’t vape where you shouldn’t smoke”) so the idea of grandfathering exists here and has also been implemented in many college campuses and other associated areas by habit. I agree keeping it individualized is the best way all around and putting a bill on it is a waste of not only political time but also the use of tax dollars for that political time.

    In specific instances, a business may choose to ban vaping on their own terms. We can rightfully choose to stand up and walk away and give our money to another business that will allow it. This is how our autonomous society works, separate from the corporate nonsense we’ve adapted to, and doing all of this actually does affect the economy. I should also note that we don’t necessarily need to vape in every place we go “because we want to / because it’s less harmful than smoking / etc.” I personally don’t and mostly vape at home; I don’t feel shunned at all by it (I actually prefer it). What are your thoughts on all of this given the billion dollar market that vaping has created?

    Hypothetically speaking, would it be acceptable to ban vaping in specific areas like elementary schools and other risky places? I realize I’m leaning on the “children” stance here, however, this is resting purely on theory for discussion. The use of fining is what makes it risky because it is scientifically proven less harmful than smoking only as it stands today.

    Lots of questions, it’s all very “up in the air” and also debatable from left and right stances. What are your thoughts?

    • These are all excellent questions. They will be addressed in a future blog. Keep an eye out!

    • Alex Carlson says:

      Thank you for your patronage, and I apologize for not having the ability to reply earlier. The question was asked if I would consider even a 1% flat tax to be appropriate. I will quote Paul Blair from Americans for Tax Reform who said “If any increase in tax leads to even one person not making the switch from traditional tobacco cigarettes to a safer alternative product like electronic cigarettes, then they have done an incredible public health injustice”. As per your other questions about appropriateness of where to vape, I don’t think that there is one answer that can be formed in any situation. But, I would always recommend if you believe that your vape “cloud” could consistently be a nuisance to a person or group of people it would probably be best if you reconsidered vaping in their vicinity without asking. However, when government interjection causes loss of liberties it should be to protect bystanders safety, not morality.

  • Z says:

    Correcting an error on flat taxing – 1% of $30 would be 30 cents. So rounded out, it would be $30.30.

    Inputting this to clear any confusion.

  • Gregg says:

    I don’t think there needs to be any tax beyond the normal sales tax. The people who want the extra charges only want easy money from products they don’t use. It would be like me saying there should be a surcharge on fishing epuipment.

  • Ken Lamp says:

    I completely agree with you. Any tax/ban is too much. Political correctness dictates that we should bow to the pressure of society. I’m sure glad George Washington and the Boys of the revolution were unwilling to go along with the political correctness of their day. They were in the minority. For far too long we as citizens have been putting up with the Bullshit that is the pressure of political correctness. It’s not just Vaping that is at stake here these days. Honestly our way of life is under attack from all sides. WE the PEOPLE are supposed to be running our country as a representative republic! Instead we have a government that is controlling the people and constantly trying to get more and more from US. It’s going to be a death by a thousand cuts, boiling the frog, etc. I personally think it’s time for all of it to stop across all the political spectrum. Stand up and fight for what you believe in or loose more of your liberty and your hard earned money. We have to stop being so damn passive and become passionate! Because, as one commenter said; what’s next? A tax and ban on my fishing gear? My $.02

  • Jim Kubitza says:

    Very well written and thoughtful piece.
    But to fight this legislation, I think the point needs to be made that the State is more interested in more money than it is in protecting people’s health. This legislation will do nothing but drive more people to smoke cigarettes. The State doesn’t give a tinker, they would get their tax money either way. That is ALL that this is about! Money, money, money, greed, greed, greed. Anything any legislator says about health is pure B.S.!

  • Alex Carlson says:

    Thank you everyone for your input, I do the best to monitor each of your comments and will keep them in mind for future articles.

  • Jake Nipper says:

    Is there a date for the next WA rally by chance? I heard they are pushing for the taxation law again in October..

    • Tim Mechling says:

      We don’t have any updates for Washington rallies. We’ve been a bit removed from the scene since we moved to Arizona. Be sure to keep your ear to the ground, information is bound to surface over the next couple of weeks!

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