The vaping industry is pushing back against a massive tax proposal that threatens to bankrupt family-owned shops throughout Connecticut.
Industry advocates and store owners are lashing out against a budget compromise announced Friday by Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy that includes a 75 percent tax on all vapor products purchased from wholesalers. Malloy is pushing the Connecticut legislature to rush the budget compromise through, leaving those who depend on the vaping industry for their livelihoods little time to fight the measure, reports the Hartford Courant.
Critics say the onerous tax will crush state businesses into bankruptcy while having little impact on the habits of residents.
“Just do the math,” Christine Mazzotta, an owner of several vape shops in the state, told the Hartford Courant. “A tax that high is simply going to push business out of Connecticut. It’s going to close stores.”
Critics say that if prices go up in the state, vapers will simply opt to buy their products through online retailers. They also note that as the industry shrinks under the weight of the tax, the revenue coming into the state will rapidly diminish.
“If you make a product that is just not affordable locally or they can get it substantially cheaper on the internet, that’s what will happen,” Democratic state House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz told the Hartford Courant. “We can’t find ourselves in another situation where we banked on revenues coming into the state of Connecticut that evaporated and finding ourselves in another deficit six, eight months from now.”
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, says the tax “threatens to close approximately 80 small businesses” in the state. Public health advocates also worry the vaping tax will reverse progress for smokers in the state who have successfully quit with a vapor product.
The proposal nearly doubles the 40 percent wholesale tax on vapor products in Pennsylvania, which is responsible for closing nearly 150 stores since implementation last October. The tax is pushing consumers out of state to buy their vaping products. Nicotine liquid that now costs nearly $10 in Pennsylvania is available in New Jersey for $4.99.
The tax appears to be designed to snuff out the vaping industry in Connecticut, likely motivated by unsubstantiated fears surrounding the products. Medical experts focused on harm reduction say misrepresentations of the health impacts of e-cigarettes, often driven by politic interests, damage overall public health and risk costing smokers’ lives.
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