Vaping business owners in Colorado expect a fresh push to tax nicotine liquid next year following a failed attempt to introduce a ballot initiative for voters to decide on its introduction in November.
Gov. Jared Polis led a late session push to add the initiative to the ballot, one that would impose a 62 per cent tax on the wholesale list price of the vaping product. Currently, there is no tax on the liquid nicotine.
While the Colorado House backed the bill, it was rejected by the Senate. Voters also would have been asked to dramatically increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes, from 84 cents to $2.59 a pack.
“The possibility of it coming back in the next session is strong,” said Amanda Wheeler, owner of the Jvapes E-Liquid chain and vice-president of the Rocky Mountain Smoke Free Alliance, trade association of vaping business owners.
But the rejection of the bill in the past session was welcome, Wheeler told Tobacco News Wire.
“We were very happy,” Wheeler said. “Our view is that vapor technology as harm reduction, and this puts tax penalties on something that improves the lives of smokers.”
Wheeler said business owners will “continue to fight” tax on vaping products if the governor and legislators attempt to introduce another ballot initiative next session.
Twenty-seven per cent of Colorado's teenagers vape, the highest in the country and double the national average, according to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.
Polis, who introduced the proposal with backing from most Democrats, estimated the overall tax package would have raised $300 million.
The governor claimed the revenue would have allowed the state to double investment in the number of pre-school places and raise health care funds for children from low-income families.
However, Wheeler said the tax was self-defeating, particularly with regard to health care, noting that 5,000 people die as a result of smoking in Colorado every year.