WASHINGTON, D.C. — Later today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to hold a vote on the so called Build Back Better (“BBB”) bill, a $1.75 trillion tax and spending plan that President Joe Biden has made passing a top priority. Heading into the vote, the American Vaping Association is cautioning House Democrats that the excise tax on nicotine products contained within the BBB bill will harm public health and alienate millions of voters heading into the 2022 midterm elections.
The new tax hike proposal came as a surprise to harm reduction advocates. When the Biden White House released their proposed framework for the bill last week, absent from the plan was a scheme previously floated by House Democrats that aimed to raise $96 billion over ten years by dramatically increasing federal exercise taxes on cigarettes and all other tobacco and nicotine products. Following its introduction in September, the proposal came under fire as a regressive tax that would violate President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on American families making less than $400,000 per year. White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to say whether President Biden supported that element of the plan.
Then, two days ago, House leadership filed a manager’s amendment to add a provision to the Biden BBB bill targeting only nicotine vaping products and pouches with a new federal excise tax of 2.7 cents per milligram of nicotine. By eliminating the tax hikes on cigarettes and other established products, the tax is now estimated to only raise $9 billion over the next decade. Under such a tax structure, many adults would end up paying more in federal excise taxes to vape than to smoke cigarettes. This late addition to the bill is attracting fresh criticism by progressive and conservative sources questioning what this tax says about Democratic priorities.
Today’s version of the BBB bill faces an uphill climb to pass the U.S. Senate. On Wednesday evening, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) balked at the idea, telling Brett Baier, “With where we are right now, a tax on nicotine? That doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.”
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, issued the following statement:
“Senator Manchin is correct to oppose this harmful tax. There is no valid reason to impose new taxes on tobacco-free nicotine products, particularly at a time when American families are feeling the impact of rising inflation. By aiming to make smoke-free alternatives more expensive than smoking, House Democrats are sending a message to millions of Americans that their health matters less than protecting the wallets of billionaires.
“Just as opposition to cannabis reform has hurt Republicans in many areas of the country, the refusal of congressional Democrats to rethink their messaging on nicotine will cost them working class voters in 2022 and beyond.”
Michael Pesko, an associate professor of economics at the Georgia State University, has published studies funded by the National Institutes of Health concluding that excessive new taxes on vaping products will lead to more combustible cigarette smoking by both youth and adults. He and other public health experts have warned that unduly harsh policies toward vaping products are likely to do more harm than good. Their arguments have only grown stronger with recent news that vaping by teenagers dramatically declined in 2021 for the second year in a row.
Vapers and harm reduction advocates are encouraged to reach out to their elected officials using this tool provided by the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association.
About the American Vaping Association
The American Vaping Association is a nonprofit organization that advocates for fair and sensible regulation of vapor products, otherwise known as electronic cigarettes, with the goal of maximizing the number of adult smokers who use these products to quit smoking. The AVA was founded by Gregory Conley, a consumer and industry advocate with a long track record of advocating for vapor products dating back to 2010.
We are dedicated to educating the public and government officials about public health benefits offered by vapor products, which are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine or nicotine-free solution and create an inhalable vapor. The AVA is not a trade group and does not speak for any particular businesses, including our industry sponsors.