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Group fights back against proposed 50% tax hike on e-cigs in Alabama


(Video above: a mini-documentary from BEAA)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Breathe Easier Alliance of Alabama, an LLC formed by users, retailers and wholesalers of consumable vapor products, said in a press release Monday that the organization will implement a campaign for awareness of, and in opposition to a proposed 50 percent tax increase on electronic cigarettes and vaporizers.

Right now electronic cigarettes and vaporizers are taxed at the normal sales tax rate. The $0.25 per milliliter tax would constitute a $3.50 tax for the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes. The current tax on a pack of cigarettes is only $0.40.

The group characterizes the proposed tax hike as a “tax on quitting smoking.”

“Quitting smoking is hard, the government shouldn’t be making it even harder,” said one Alabamian in the video who used e-cigs to quit tobacco products.

“To say we’re going to tax cigarettes between $0.30 and $0.80 [a pack] and we’re going to tax e-cigarettes $7 is the equivalent of saying ‘we want people to eat healthier, so we’re going to tax fast food $1, and an apple $7,'” a spokesperson for the BEAA told Yellowhammer Tuesday.

The relatively new vapor industry employs somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 people alone, causing the BEAA to compare this proposal to instituting a 50 percent tax hike on a company like Remington.

“The BEAA points to countless studies that show that the use of consumable vapors is a much safer and healthier alternative to tobacco use,” the press release said. “Furthermore, a longitudinal study of e-cigarette and vapor users performed by researchers at the National Institute for Health Innovation in New Zealand shows that these products can be highly effective in assisting users in dramatically decreasing and ending their dependence on tobacco.”

BEAA posted the video above on its Facebook page Monday to kick off the campaign. The mini-documentary features the stories of six Alabamians who used e-cigs and vaporizers to quit using tobacco products.

Yellowhammer reached out to the bill’s sponsor, Alabama Representative Steve McMillan for comment, but received no answer by press time.