Washington state is perhaps the most vape-hostile place in the nation. In addition to the usual business licenses, vapor retailers and distributors must obtain a special license from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB).
Tax Happy Washington State
Washington collects a prohibitive tax on liquor: 10% at wholesale plus a 17% retail fee to the LCB and a 20.5% spirits tax on top of that plus a flat fee of $3.77 per liter. Beer and wine are also taxed at $3.77 per liter and subject to a 9.5% sales tax.
Cigarettes are taxed at $3.025 per pack of 20 and $3.781 per pack of 25 cigarettes. The average price for a pack in Washington state is $9.56, which comes to $6.535 per pack of 20 before tax. That puts the tax rate on cigarettes at approximately 46%, which is conveniently hidden by the stamp tax.
I wanted to lay all of this out before discussing the tax on vaping. It’s the highest in the nation. More precisely, it will be the highest in the nation if House Bill 2165 is adopted. This bill proposes a 60% tax on vaping products. (Click here to read a PDF of HB 2165.)
That’s higher than the beer and wine tax, higher than the marijuana tax, higher than the liquor tax, and higher than the cigarette tax. It’s not as bad as the original 95% proposal, but it’s still insane. (Click here to read a PDF of HB 2144.)
Washington state legislators have been working toward this tax since 2015. Let’s do what we can to make sure it isn’t adopted in 2018.
A Call to Action
We are going to provide you with all the links you need to be informed about this proposed legislation and how to contact your Representative if you live in Washington state.
HB 2165 is currently in committee and has not yet gone to the house floor. Now is the time to work to prevent that from ever happening. If you are a resident of Washington state, please contact your state Representative (for contact info, follow this link) and tell them to shoot down this ridiculously high tax.
If your Representatives is one of the sponsors of the bill, it is imperative that they hear from you as soon as possible: Paul Harris represents the 11th district, Beth Dogglio the 22nd, Ruth Kagi and Cindy Ryu the 32nd, Eileen Cody the 34th, Gerry Pollet the 46th, and Vandana Slatter the 48th. Use these links to get their contact information.
They try to sell this high tax rate in part as “backfill” revenue to make up for money lost when the age for use of tobacco and vaping is raised from 18 to 21 through HB 1054 (also in committee). (Click here to read a PDF of HB 1054.)
On one hand, the legislature says it is “protecting the kids” by raising the smoking and vaping age to 21, and then it is justifying a crazy high tax on vaping product in part because of the tax revenue lost from preventing those under 21 from smoking and vaping.
Does that make sense to you? If so, you may have a future in politics. If not, you need to register your opposition to HB 1054 and HB 2165.
What to Say – Some Suggestions
Stress that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking tobacco, and that taxing it makes it less likely that smokers will consider switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes.
Ask the why the tax on vaping – which recent studies have found is significantly less hazardous than smoking – is higher than the tax on cigarettes, which have a much higher public health cost and are a far greater danger to users than e-cigs.
Ask them if they know anyone who has used vaping to give up smoking. How much do you want to bet that many of those Representatives have one or more friends, family members, or associates who have done so – and probably hundreds of constituents as well.
If you are a vaper who has quit tobacco, call your Representative and share your story. Let them know how vaping has impacted your life and ask them why they want to make it less accessible to smokers who want to quit instead of doing the right thing and making vaping more accessible.
From a taxation standpoint, let them know that the 40% tax on vaping in Pennsylvania has been responsible for hundreds of vape shops closing since it was enacted – and the proposed Washington state tax is 50% higher than that. It is destroying businesses and jobs. That’s not good for the state.
As an example, point out that Mt Baker Vapor moved its headquarters from Bellingham, Washington to Mesa, Arizona in 2015 because of legislative pressure on the vaping industry. That’s a long way from Mt Baker!
I think you understand the agenda. If you want to read up on the issues, we’ve published a lot of good content in Vape Gazette in the past month, and other vaping news sites have far more.
You might want to consider joining the Washington State Vapers Facebook group to coordinate your efforts with other e-cigarette users and supporters across the state. And please join our Vape Gazette group and let us know what happened when you contacted (or tried to) your state Representative.
Finally, share this information with others. Print out this article and bring it to your local vapor shop. Share the link to this article from our Facebook group. Email and call friends who aren’t on Facebook. If you’re not in Washington state but know people who are, let them know what’s going on.
Raise the pressure on your elected representatives to serve your needs, not somebody else’s agenda.
And best wishes as you get their attention and make a difference for the future of your beautiful state.
- WA “Backs Down” to a 60% Tax, March 31, 2015, Mt Baker Vapor
- ATR Opposes Massive New Excise Tax on Vapor Products in Washington State, June 25, 2015, Americans for Tax Reform
- Vapor Products, E-cigarettes Could Be Taxed under New Bill, March 16, 2017, The Spokesman-Review
- Vapor Products and the Law FAQ, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board
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Keywords: #vapetax #vaping #ecigarette
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