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American Lung Association: Proposed tax on e-cigarettes not enough

Posted: 5:07 PM, Feb 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-13 17:08:59-05
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INDIANAPOLIS — The new proposed Indiana tax on e-cigarettes is not high enough, the American Lung Association says.

A proposed bill would establish a tax of 4 cents per milliliter on e-liquid for e-cigarettes. That number is too low for the American Lung Association.

“Lawmakers should rethink their approach when it comes to establishing a tax on e-cigarettes,” said Nick Torres, the director of advocacy for the Lung Association. “At the current rate proposed under HB 1444, Indiana would have the lowest e-cigarette tax in the country, in addition to having the lowest cigarette tax in the region. As this bill moves over to the Senate, we urge legislators to take meaningful action to address our state’s tobacco burden."

Both the American Lung Association and the bill’s author, Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, say the proposed rate of taxation is actually less than the taxation rate of a pack of cigarettes.

A Juul pod, the most commonly used e-cigarette among youth, would carry a tax of less than 3 cents, the American Lung Association said.

Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, voted in support of the bill. She noted that high school e-cigarette use increased 78 percent from 2017 to 2018, and said Indiana should tax e-cigarettes if it taxes cigarettes.

“I think it’s time we tax this liquid, not knowing what’s in all of them,” she said.

The American Lung Association is also calling for legislators to raise the state tobacco tax by $2 per pack.

Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne, voted against the bill. He said he didn’t like the idea of taxing the liquid simply because it contains nicotine and not a harmful chemical.

“The people that I’ve spoken to who have smoked cigarettes for years, this is a way for them to try to get healthier and try to get off the harmful effects of cigarettes,” Morris said. “What are in cigarettes? The nicotine [in cigarettes] is not the problem. It’s actually the chemicals, the additives and the other things they put in there with the tobacco.”

The tax was approved the Indiana House of Representatives, 53-40. It now goes to the Senate.