Lawmakers in Kentucky are attempting to boost state revenue partially off the backs of former smokers relying on a vape with a proposal to tax the devices like cigarettes.
The revenue bill, unveiled by state Republicans Monday, applies a six percent sales tax to a significant list of activities including golfing, bowling and laundry services. It also brings vapor products under the state’s definition of tobacco, despite containing only nicotine, which will allow Kentucky to tax e-cigarettes at a rate of 15 percent, reports Vaping Post.
The tax plan, vehemently opposed by both the liberal Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and conservative Americans for Prosperity, fails to acknowledged the vastly different health profile of vapor products compared to cigarettes.
Public health advocates focused on harm reduction have long advocated taxes that differentiate between the risks of combustible cigarettes and alternative products to steer smokers to safer methods of nicotine delivery.
Dr. Brad Rodu, a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville and associate fellow with the R Street Institute, recently released a tax proposal that advocates differential taxes based on differential product risk in Kentucky. The tax proposal has the backing of 16 economists and tobacco policy experts from across the U.S.
“Instead of just pushing them to quit, when many of them are unable or unwilling to quit tobacco entirely, our proposal instead encourages them and incentivizes them to switch to vastly safer products,” Rodu previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The ideal is that nobody ever uses tobacco, but the ideal isn’t going to be achievable in our lifetimes, so what we’re doing is trying to help smokers who desperately need to quit now.”
Instead of alarmism over the alleged threats posed by smokeless tobacco and vapor products, users should be taught about the relative risks of those products when compared to smoking.
Public health advocates say efforts to spread misinformation on alternative smoking options that minimize their benefits simply deny smokers less harmful options while tacitly encouraging them to keep using a more dangerous product.
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