New Bill Seeks to Increase Vape Tax by 60% in Washington State

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by James Bickford

Updated: August 7, 2020

Washington vape tax bill

It seems that a new troubling trend has been sweeping across statehouses around the country. Proposals in state legislatures from Illinois to Washington, to increase the legal purchasing age for tobacco to 21 from 18 sometimes have, whether inadvertently or not, burdened vape retailers and consumers with new taxes or regulations that hurt both parties.

Main Facts

In Illinois, a proposal to raise the age limit classified e-liquids (the main ingredient of e-cigarettes) in the same category as “tobacco products,” which, if the new legislation passes, would make them off-limits to anyone under the age of 21.

Now, a new bill in Washington state takes direct aim at vapers and the vaping industry. The bill, HB 2165, does not hide its intentions. The wording of the law mentions precisely how the new tax is intended to price vape products out of the reach of young people.

Increasing the price of vapor products will decrease youth access and addiction, just as raising taxes on cigarettes to discourage youth and adult smoking decreased youth access and addiction

– the bill states in its opening pages

Mass Hysteria

The bill does try to sound like it’s doing something positive. “The legislature finds, therefore, that this act is necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare,” the bill says after it has tied tobacco and vapor products together in the same sentence and classified them as a threat to young people.

But apart from its self-serving language, the bill also tries to justify the tax hike through some very circular reasoning. The bill cites a survey that found “Twenty-three percent of twelfth graders had used an e-cigarette in the past month.”

Usedan e-cigarette in the past month?! They didn’t become regular users of e-cigarettes. The twelfth graders didn’t become regular smokers because of their one encounter with an e-cigarette; they just used one in the last thirty days.

But the report makes that leap anyway, stating that “these rates are alarming because an overwhelming majority of smokers begin smoking and become addicted to nicotine as teenagers.”

So Washington state lawmakers decided to do a run down the slippery slope where a brief flirtation with an e-cigarette, of course, leads to smoking a cigarette, which then, naturally, leads to heroin, and later, certain death. It’s surprising to see these leaps in logic performed by the same legislature that legalized marijuana.

But the legislators, apparently, know something very few people know, which is that one way to stop death is to raise taxes. The creme de la creme of the bill’s self-congratulatory tone comes when it directly equates vape products with tobacco products, making the former the new scourge of public health and making lawmakers into saviors for taxing the threat away.

man with vape counts money
ALPA PROD/Shutterstock

The Tax Effect

Death, in the form of a failed business, is what nearly 100 vape shops in Pennsylvania experienced when that state’s lawmakers saddled the industry with a smaller, but equally onerous, 40% tax hike.

Things got so bad that SmokeFree Pennsylvania Executive Director Bill Godshall personally wrote to Senate Committee members on the side of the vape industry. Godshall wrote that the tax and its effects were “disastrous” and called vape products “lifesaving.”

It’s too early to say whether or not HB 2165 will pass. The bill is on its way to the Appropriations Committee for further approvals.

CASAA (Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association), a pro-vaping advocacy group, has been urging its members and legislators to take action and come out against the bill, but there’s no word yet on whether there will be any amendments to the bill.

Published: February 24, 2018Updated: August 7, 2020
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James Bickford

My way of understanding the significance of vaping came not only through the disruption of smoking but its effects on society as a whole. Now I bring people to vaping and bring vaping to people. I love using new gear, writing in-depth reviews and generally nerding out about vaping to like-minded people.


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0 comments on “New Bill Seeks to Increase Vape Tax by 60% in Washington State

  • Lisa

    February 26, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Hey James, HB2165 is from last session isn’t it? I don’t find anything when I search it. However there is a HB1873 that adds a 95% tax…

  • Martinfairl

    April 23, 2018 at 12:11 am

    Hellow my name is Martinfairl. Wery good-hearted post! Thx 🙂

  • Reba Tessel

    February 25, 2018 at 3:31 am

    My vape contains no-nicotine juices. So you’re telling me now that you want to raise these prices back to a pack of cigarettes? I quit because I needed to save more and pay out less. I’m on Social Security. I guess I might as well get back on regular cigarettes now that the vape companies are going to kill people anyway.

    • Reba Tessel

      February 25, 2018 at 4:13 am

      Oops – Correction – I am referring to a raise in taxes to the vape manufacturers that aid people in quitting smoking. There are times when the Givernment has to lower taxes to companies that save lives.