CHICAGO, IL — Today, the American Vaping Association, a leading advocate for the benefits of vapor products such as electronic cigarettes, is warning smokers and vapers in the City of Chicago that a new sky high tax on vapor products is set to take effect tomorrow (Jan. 1, 2016). This tax comes not only as millions of Americans try to quit smoking as part of their New Year’s Resolutions, but also as the City of Chicago launches a fear-based campaign against vaping.
The new tax of 55 cents per milliliter of nicotine-containing liquid will essentially double the cost of most products sold at Chicago’s two-dozen-plus vapor retail specialty stores. Under the tax plan, a 30 milliliter bottle of e-liquid, which is typically sold for between $15 and $20, will be taxed at $16.50.
“This is the worst tax system in the country,” said Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association. “The tax is so high that it will shut down many businesses and discourage Chicago smokers from quitting. This also means that cigarette tax revenue will keep flowing, which will surely make Mayor Rahm Emanuel happy.”
The tax will be applied as a “floor tax,” meaning that the tax will instantly be applied to all inventory in a store’s possession on January 1st. As such, even without making any sales, many businesses will start off the New Year owing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to the Chicago Department of Revenue.
The new tax has business owners worried about their futures. “I don’t know how we’re going to survive,” said Jared Yucht, co-owner of Smoque Vapours, which has two stores in Chicago. “We have twenty employees and two leases to pay for. People are just going to buy their products online.”
To coincide with the new tax, Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Public Health announced the start of an anti-vaping campaign, #VapingTruth, just before Christmas. In the days since, the Twitter hashtag campaign has been overtaken by vapers and harm reduction advocates. Clive Bates, a longtime anti-smoking advocate and former head of the UK-based Action on Smoking & Health (ASH), expressed his disgust with the campaign, saying that it “uses crude lies to deny real human stories.”
Across the border in Iowa, a different perspective is getting media attention. Attorney General Tom Miller, a fierce opponent of the tobacco industry, recently released a statement backing e-cigarette use by smokers. “The harm of the combustible cigarette is dramatically greater than the harm of the e-cigarette,” wrote Miller.
Beyond just protecting cigarette tax revenue, AVA’s Conley sees another ulterior motive driving Mayor Emanuel’s campaign against vaping.
“Mayor Emanuel is desperate for simple, feel good media stories to distract the people of Chicago from his bad behavior and the failures of his police department,” said Conley. “Adult smokers and vapers deserve honest, scientifically valid information, not hype and conjecture designed to distract from corruption and scare people away from quitting smoking.”
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.