Published on January 24th, 2017 | by Jimmy Hafrey
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had a boisterous Monday morning when state legislators received a rally of hundreds of angry vapers who were taking aim at the State Assembly’s newest profit scheme: a 40% wholesale tax on vaping supplies.
The rally, which was attended by hundreds of vapers, vape shop owners, and state legislators themselves, was to protest the tax that went into effect in October. This a wholesale inventory tax, meaning that vape shop owners must pay the tax for everything in their inventory, including vape devices and accessories, regardless if the products sell or not.
It is this tax hike, which this publication has written about before, that has closed an estimated 100 vape shops in Pennsylvania, resulting in hundreds of jobs lost and a revenue decrease for the industry since it was enacted in October. That number comes from the Pennsylvania Vape Association, an organization that monitors the vape industry in the state and provides information to its members on news that affects the industry.
The York Dispatch reported on a particularly moving story about one vape shop owner, Mike Curry, who owns five vape shops around the state. Curry had been employing adults with special needs to work in his shops. Since the tax hike has been enacted, he says he’s been forced to fire six of these seven employees.
Speaking with reporters at the rally held yesterday, Curry said that: “Nothing is better than instilling these people with a purpose. And nothing has been harder than telling those six individuals they can’t help anymore.”
But it’s not just about giving employment opportunities to people in a state that have seen its share of hard economic times; it’s also about giving vapers the opportunity to vape at an affordable price.
PA Homepage reported on one vape shop that is doing just that. Cloud Chemistry, which is located in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, has been absorbing some of the cost of vape liquids and devices to help make their products more affordable to their customer base. Now that the state has enacted a 40 percent increase, this is no longer possible, and for customers who use vaping as a smoking cessation method, this will almost certainly bar them from using it in the future.
All is not lost, however; ABC27 has reported that hundreds of vape advocates were in the state Capitol building on Monday morning to voice support for a popular piece of legislation that would reduce the vape tax to five cents per milliliter of vape liquid. The bill, which has over 60 co-sponsors and is gathering momentum on the floor of the House, was proposed late last year towards the end of the State Assembly session and never made it into law.
For vape owners like Tony Myers, who owns About It All and About It All Vapors in Hanover, the legislation’s delay only harms them and the industry every day that it is not in law.
“They had the opportunity last year, but they swept it under the rug,” Myers said when speaking to reporters. “It dims my hope a bit.”
For Curry, Myers, and other vape advocates, the fight for a fair tax isn’t just about the money: it’s about the fact that vaping is saving lives. Studies have shown that vaping is 95 percent less harmful that smoking traditional cigarettes; in fact, Public Health England, the UK’s health department, has even recommended vaping as a smoking cessation method. Other countries are following suit, and all long-term studies have shown that there are fewer risks to vapers than there are to smokers.
By taxing the industry out of the market, state and national legislators are allowing Big Tobacco to have a say in what type of smoking cessation methods exist. Although the state has claimed that it’s a matter of revenue, the truth is that no state can rely on revenue that can’t be collected if that industry is no longer in place.
While the proposed tax amendment has not been introduced into session yet, this publication will continue to keep readers informed on the process.