Alaska Includes Vaping Products in Tobacco Tax Laws
Lawmakers in Alaska have moved to classify vaping products and other electronic cigarette products under the tobacco tax laws. The move by the Anchorage Assembly will mean that all vaping products, including hardware like cartridges, will be taxed under the tax laws. These vaping products will be taxed 55 percent of their wholesale price.
The Anchorage Assembly passed the tax ordinance this month. However, not everyone is pleased with the new law. A vaping shop owner complained that the taxes were not necessary since vaping helped people kick the habit of smoking tobacco cigarettes. Shaun D’Sylva, a co-owner at a Fatboy Vapors ship in Midtown, disagreed with the tax on vaping products.
“Imposing this tax on something that is actually helping get away from combustible cigarettes and actually costing the state and local resources less money seems a little problematic,” D’Sylva said.
Many people turn to vaping as a way to kick the habit of smoking cigarettes. Since the amount of nicotine contained in e-liquids can be measured, people can slowly wean themselves off smoking cigarettes. There are hundreds of e-liquids for people to choose from in the vaping market.
The Alaska marijuana tax law, Ballot Measure 2, was passed on Nov. 4, 2014, to levy the sale of marijuana products sold in the state. The Alaska Tax Division have been mandated to collect the marijuana tax from all licensed marijuana cultivation outfits. This division is likely to collect taxes on vaping products and other electronic vaping devices.
“Assembly Ordinance (AO) 2020-89 amends AMC 12.40, ending the exclusion of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices from the excise tax on tobacco products,” the Assembly press release said. The newly approved ordinance is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2021.
According to lawmakers, the main reason for including vaping products in the marijuana tax law is to deter young people from vaping. Officials are concerned that young people are more likely to vape than smoke a cigarette.
Assemblywoman Suzanne LaFrance and Assemblyman Christopher Constant are of the opinion that the ordinance will be of service to young people. Laws makers also expressed worry at the alarming number of young people vaping. The American Cancer Society reports that one in four high school students in Alaska use vaping products.
“Now e-cigarettes are addicting a new generation of youth, threatening all of that progress,” said Marge Stoneking, executive director of American Lung Association in Alaska said. “ Significantly increasing taxes on tobacco products results in fewer kids starting to smoke and more adults quitting while at the same time providing revenue to the municipality.”
Stoneking welcomed the passing of the ordinance as a step in the right direction, although there are many not pleased with it. “W know that this is an important step forward that will help children that will keep kids away from becoming addicted. Because this is an epidemic, it’s a problem. And we can take action with this to make it better,” she said.
Alaska is not the only state in the United States worried about the rise of vaping among high school children. Countries like New Zealand are also battling the same problem and have recently passed new vaping laws prohibiting people below 18 from vaping and being able to buy vaping products.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that vaping is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults. However, officials admit that vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes According to the CDC, most e-liquids on the market contain nicotine. A study revealed that about 99 percent of all e-juice sold across the United States contained nicotine. Nicotine is considered highly addictive and harmful since it can negatively affect the development of adolescent brains. The harm can continue into the mid-20s.
In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a mandate that banned the sale of vaping products to minors. This mandate also includes that vaping products must be regulated as tobacco products. Most states in the US have come up with regulations to govern vaping products as the popularity of vaping increased. In Alaska, lawmakers also made laws governing vaping. Some of these laws include the ban on vaping in bars, restaurants, and workplaces.
Alaska is not the only state that has moved to include vaping products under tobacco tax laws. As of 2020, 21 states, including the District of Columbia, tax vaping products. And there are local taxes but no state tax in Alaska and Maryland. Vaping products are taxed per ounce of vaping liquid or a percentage of the price.