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State lawmakers eye stiff taxes on e-smoking devices

By Sam Eifling / Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:19 p.m. HST, Feb 10, 2014


State lawmakers on Monday advanced bills that could heavily tax electronic smoking devices in Hawaii.

People who sell the devices, also called vaporizers or e-cigs, turned out to hearings Friday and Monday to oppose the bills (SB2495 and SB2496). They said the devices help people stop smoking cigarettes and that high taxes could put their shops out of business.

One of the three bills lawmakers are considering originally called for an 85 percent wholesale tax on the devices, which can sell for $100 or more. That proposed tax rate isn't expected to pass in the Legislature because several lawmakers said the devices may help people quit smoking cigarettes.

"We have to find a balance between public health and cessation advantage in this particular product," said Health Committee Chairman Sen. Josh Green, a Democrat representing Kona and Kau.

Retailers testified that taxing what they called smoking-cessation devices as heavily as tobacco would discourage smokers from buying the devices.

"I understand the tax, but not an 85 percent tax," said Tony Muller, 31, who owns and runs the Vaping Section Hawaii, a shop in Honolulu. "That's going to drive people away from quitting smoking. Ten or 15 percent, I don't have a problem."

Sean Anderson, 37, who owns and runs Black Lava Vape in Kona, said he quit smoking several times when he used a nicotine patch, only to return to cigarettes. What got him, all seven of his employees and many of his customers to stop, he said, was switching to an electronic smoking device.

"I've had people come in and give me a hug," Anderson said. "They're like, 'You saved my life.' When I got into this (business), of course I wanted to make money. But it changed. That's why I'm so passionate about this."

Vaporizers help smokers quit because they still get the sensation of exhaling and inhaling, in addition to the nicotine buzz, Anderson said.

A 2013 study in the Harm Reduction Journal described findings similar to that anecdotal evidence. Because e-cigs replace some smoking rituals and deliver nicotine vapor without actual smoke, the authors found, the devices "might be the most promising product for tobacco harm reduction to date."

The bills still have another committee to clear before heading to the Senate floor for a vote.

On Tuesday, lawmakers will consider a bill (SB2222) that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, including the cartridges for e-cigs. That measure, aimed at preventing children from taking up tobacco, would also make electronic smoking devices less appealing to adult smokers, retailers said.

"When they quit, and they actually are no longer smokers, I've seen guys with tears in their eyes," Anderson said. "I realize how dramatic it sounds. But this is real life."







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richierich wrote:
No doubt, big tobacco companies are lobbying for this tax.
on February 10,2014 | 04:30PM
kainalu wrote:
In case you haven't notice, the taxman cometh ... again.
on February 10,2014 | 05:18PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
"State lawmakers eye stiff taxes on e-smoking devices"

Of course they are. Because they can.


on February 10,2014 | 05:38PM
localguy wrote:
Our bureaucrats area "Addicted" to taxing people just to continue providing money to fund their special projects. We need to get them treated, get their addiction cured. Failing a cure, they need to resign, go find something else to do.
on February 11,2014 | 05:18AM
PMINZ wrote:
Our Beaurocraps believe that is 'Their' money not ours. Just because WE had to Labor for the Monie$ is of no interest to them!
on February 11,2014 | 08:35AM
false wrote:
kendama look out...
on February 10,2014 | 05:46PM
soundofreason wrote:
These things carry NO overhead for the govt. WHY the tax? See how they keep hitting segments of people? Making rounds picking up more and more segment by segment to where the majority, as a whole, do not object. That's the mode of operation here. Needs to be ALL of us saying NO more taxes.....for ANYTHING!!
on February 10,2014 | 07:03PM
South76 wrote:
Government unions contract negotiation is just around the block, the clowns need to bring in revenue so they have a carrot to dangle in front of them so they get re-elected each election. Nothing more, nothing less.
on February 11,2014 | 04:28AM
2localgirl wrote:
OF COURSE THE LEGISLATURE can't leave one bit of $$ on the table. It's NOT CIGARETTES you fool. TAX and SPEND, do they know how to do anything else in Hawaii?? Get rid of the louts. NEXT ELECTION, I was told, vote for any other Democrat, one who is not an incumbent. We NEED TO OUT THE OLD BOYS and put new blood into the system. AUWE! Where's my ballot?!
on February 10,2014 | 09:22PM
PMINZ wrote:
I agree with You Vote them all out. But of coarse you know they will mostly win reElection. We are just stupid Pawns.
on February 11,2014 | 08:37AM
WalkoffBalk wrote:
Up in smoke.
on February 10,2014 | 09:44PM
LittleEarl_01 wrote:
Having smoked Camel non-filter cigarettes for 52 years, my wife bought me an e-cig over 2 years ago, I haven't picked up a Camel in 2 years. I've gone from $1,100 a month for Camels to $36 a month for the liquid I use. E-cigs saved both me and money.
on February 11,2014 | 03:45AM
localguy wrote:
Exactly why our clueless bureaucrats have to tax ecigs. By not smoking regular cigarettes, you are taking their tax money away from them. This can't happen, cutting out their source of funds for special projects, more wasted money. It was never about getting people to quit smoking, all about keeping the tax money flowing.
on February 11,2014 | 05:20AM
nalogirl wrote:
Yup, here we have a device that is helping people quit a deadly addiction and the LEG wants to treat it like regular cigs. Leave these businesses alone.
on February 11,2014 | 08:41AM
Imagen wrote:
Amen nalogirl!
on February 11,2014 | 12:48PM
Bdpapa wrote:
So it is all about the money!
on February 11,2014 | 04:14AM
localguy wrote:
Always was. Anyone who thinks a bureaucrat is concerned about a taxpayer's health clearly hasn't seen our bureaucrats in action, totally addicted to spending tax payer's money.
on February 11,2014 | 05:34AM
salsacoquibx wrote:
Did you really think that this wasn't going to get taxed..lol
on February 11,2014 | 04:42AM
soundofreason wrote:
Agreed. Again, no overhead for this tax - no NEED......just CAN....and just CAN because we sit back and LET them.
on February 11,2014 | 06:28AM
localguy wrote:
Truth is our dysfunctional elected bureaucrats are totally addicted to taking smoking tax from smokers to fund their special projects and appease their union bosses. They are terrified about losing those funds, no more money for them to waste. These proposed new taxes on ecigs were never about protecting the health of users, it is all about continuing the money flow. Sad to see our clueless bureaucrats show how weak minded they are, kowtowing to their spendthrift addiction habits. eCig users would be wise to do everything they legally can to avoid paying this totally shibai tax. Joshy Green, you can do better, control your addiction, get professional help, you can beat this OCD.
on February 11,2014 | 05:16AM
mr808surfguy wrote:
Moped lawmaker = more taxes E-Cig lawmaker = more taxes Add all of this up = the state of Hawaii trying to becoome the most taxed state Give me liberty, or give me death!
on February 11,2014 | 05:45AM
Graham wrote:
Becareful what you ask for...
on February 11,2014 | 07:18AM
PMINZ wrote:
No give me Liberty or give me more taxes, that is the Taxman's Creed, of coarse we can't be allowed freedom su they want more TaXXes
on February 11,2014 | 08:40AM
krusha wrote:
I'd rather they ban all regular cigarettes instead. E-cigs smell like air fresheners and don't bother me much unlike the other traditional cancer sticks.
on February 11,2014 | 06:00AM
PMINZ wrote:
I still smell Nicotine from some of the E-Cigs, but not all of them. The Nicotine does not Magically Disappear from the Vapor when it is Exhaled.
on February 11,2014 | 08:42AM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
What does nicotine smell like? Sorry, I can recognize tobacco, or the various aromas of the e-cig, but what does nicotine smell like?
on February 11,2014 | 09:32AM
FluidMotion wrote:
Yes, let's make it even more difficult for people to quit smoking cigarettes by taxing to death the safe alternative. Hey lawmakers, open your eyes! Your greed is contemptuous.
on February 11,2014 | 06:27AM
PMINZ wrote:
Safer but not completely "Safe" Nicotine still has its Faults.
on February 11,2014 | 08:43AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Taxing anything 85% is ridiculous. It should be more like 84½ %.
on February 11,2014 | 06:32AM
HAL9000 wrote:
These Hawaiian legislature Puritans want to ban everything that adults do for their own choice. Why don't they propose banning cigarettes? Why don't they propose banning cooking oil because it clogs veins and can kill you? Hey why don't they ban milk cause it causes clogged veins and arteries also? Why don't they ban ice cream also? Get a life Hawaii, you can't ban everything. I think we should tax all Hawaii law makers 85 percent on their public wages for being stupid. There. Are no statistic showing e cigarettes are bad for your lungs. The Puritanism are at it again cause it looks bad, stupid is as stupid does.
on February 11,2014 | 07:02AM
MariaBetty wrote:
Tax coffee and see what these people who judge think.
on February 11,2014 | 07:15AM
HAL9000 wrote:
Typical war on choice in Hawaii.
on February 11,2014 | 07:23AM
toobn wrote:
They claim they are trying to protect the public. I think we need legislation to protect the public from idiotic legislators.
on February 11,2014 | 08:32AM
PMINZ wrote:
Nicotine - It still is a poison, used as Bug Killer and can cause Heart Disease and Hardening of the Arteries. It is a Tobacco Product. Why is there Advertising on TV and Radio? I believed that Tobacco Products were Banned from Same!
on February 11,2014 | 08:33AM
queverb wrote:
Caffeine - also a poison, also used as an insecticide. Don't recall any studies stating that nicotine in and of itself causes heart disease or hardening of the arteries. Nicotine is not derived from tobacco alone. Numerous vegetables contain nicotine, and smoking cessation products, like patches and gums, use the same type of synthetic nicotine that many e-liquids use. On top of all that, more research is coming out about the beneficial use of nicotine in treating certain mental disorders and, the topper, more research is being done about nicotine not being anywhere near as addictive as it was previously believed to be. Not saying that eCigs are perfectly safe yet, but more research is coming out showing that they are exponentially safer than tobacco cigarettes and that they pose virtually no risk to bystanders. That is what science is telling us now.
on March 18,2014 | 02:41PM
nalogirl wrote:
And we wonder why we are called unfriendly to small business. anytime, anyone starts making a business that is making a profit, the LEG has to tax it and regulate it.
on February 11,2014 | 08:40AM
fiveo wrote:
Business as usual. Just another money grab couched in the usual bull, that this is for the protection of the keiki and the health of the people. Watch what these jerks end up doing with the money they plan to collect.
on February 11,2014 | 09:15AM
Imagen wrote:
These bafoons at the capitol are just ridiculous!
on February 11,2014 | 12:47PM
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