2018 Bills

HB 88: An 86% Tax on E-Cigarettes and Supplies

This bill was not voted on in the House or the Senate.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it violates our principles and must therefore be opposed.

For several years, Representative Paul Ray has attempted to restrict e-cigarettes and impose a heavy tax on them. As with other attempts, his latest bill, House Bill 88, imposes an 86% tax on sales of electronic cigarettes, nicotine inhalers, and the substances they use.

Representative Ray has previously claimed that such a punitive tax would discourage underage youth from using it, though he has not presented any evidence that the tax would achieve his goals. Further, it is improper to punish adults financially simply because some youth may be violating the law that already prohibits them from purchasing and possessing these items.

This tax could very well crush a fledgling industry that relies on attracting cigarettes smokers to abandon those more harmful products in favor of electronic cigarettes and nicotine inhalers. Placing the same 86% tax on the latter products would remove the incentive to migrate away from cigarettes, thus decreasing the rate at which Utahns quit smoking.

The desire to address underage use of harmful substances is a noble one, but it hardly provides justification for adding a punitive tax on all users of the product. Government should not be grown through “sin taxes” and other misguided social engineering efforts.