In an effort to find new ways to pay for the proposed $1.75 trillion “Build Back Better” package, the House Democrats added a “nicotine tax” on tobacco products including e‑cigarettes in their latest 2,135-page version of the bill. Unfortunately, there is nothing innovative about this amendment.
There have been multiple attempts at federal and state levels in the past, with some of them successful, to impose this type of ‘sin tax.’ While the primary objective is to raise revenue and improve public health, the proposal runs counter to the proponent’s expectations: this regressive tax hike would keep more people smoking.
Under the current proposal, any nicotine product “that has been extracted, concentrated, or synthesized” would be taxed at a rate of $50.33 per 1,810 milligrams of nicotine. While this is half of what was proposed in the first version of the bill, the net result would be similar: it would put small vaping shops out of business, increasing demand for products on the black market, and keeping people smoking more.
When a nicotine tax was initially proposed in the funding plan in September, multiple experts warned Congress of the negative repercussions the tax hike would have both on the industry and public health. But no one seemed to have listened. This myopic attempt to raise revenue for social spending puts the health of millions on the back-burner.
According to the CDC nearly 14 of every 100 American adults aged 18 years or older smoked cigarettes in 2019. This means an estimated 34.1 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes. Empirical evidence shows that e …