I received the following e-mail from my vape store, MadVapes.
NC URGENT ALERT: BIG TOBACCO IS TRYING TO TAX E-CIGS!
As a customer of ours, we try to not overfill your email inbox with messages. However, we knew you would be interested in knowing about a bill that legislators in Raleigh are trying to ram through the State Legislature that would impose a needless sin tax of 5 cents per ml of liquid on the sale of all electronic cigarette products containing nicotine.
This bill is the direct result of large campaign contributions made to members of the North Carolina General Assembly and Senate by RJ Reynolds (Camel Cigarettes) and Lorillard (Newport Cigarettes, blu) over the last several years. On Tuesday, RJ Reynolds Vice President David Powers stood before a committee in the NC General Assembly and asked that the bill be passed. Lorillard has sent a spokesperson out to the media to endorse the bill.
RJ Reynolds is out pushing for an e-cigarette tax and yet they don’t even sell e-cigarettes in North Carolina. Does that smell fishy to you?
There might be yet another reason for this tax. The lawyers are still studying this bill, but enactment could ban most online sales by making it a crime for an e-cigarette business outside of North Carolina to ship to you or other North Carolina citizens unless the buyer holds a tobacco wholesalers license! What better way for Big Tobacco to shut down its competition than by making it more difficult for you to buy the best-priced and best-quality electronic cigarettes available.
Supports of this tax proposal are claiming that imposing a “small” tax on vapor products will act as a shield and help stop larger tax proposals. This is a silly argument. Once we agree to a “sin tax” in any amount, we’re going to be fighting efforts to increase that tax each and every year, as evidenced by this statement: NC State Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham), called the proposed 5 cent tax a “good place to start,” but he added that lawmakers may need to consider raising it in coming years as the state budget begins to lose revenue from people making the switch from traditional to electronic cigarettes.
Additionally, by requiring tobacco licenses to sell, distribute, and import electronic cigarette products, this bill could needlessly add costs to our products. We are a small business and are fearful we may have to retain a lawyer and/or just accountant just to determine our responsibilities in terms of licensing, reporting, and possibly posting bond with the North Carolina government. We are similarly concerned about other companies operating in North Carolina.
PLEASE ACT NOW!
HB 1050 has been placed on the NC General Assembly Calendar for May 20th, where it will be considered by the full General Assembly. If passed, it will then be heard in the Senate. Even if you receive this e-mail after May 20th, please continue to act. We need a huge showing of opposition and we hope you can help.
One thing to keep in mind: This is an election year. If there is any time that a big influx of e-mails and phone calls from vapers is going to make a difference, it is right now. Make it known that you will remember how your General Assembly and Senate representatives voted come election time.
WHAT YOU CAN DO . . .
The e-cigarette advocacy group CASAA has invested in CQ Roll Call, a program which helps connect our members easily and in a targeted fashion with their state and federal legislators on specifically crafted campaigns we design. Please see the North Carolina Call to Action for information on how you can help . . . and it’ll only take five minutes of your time.
Let me just add two things. It’s even better to actually mail a letter to your representatives in the state Congress. Also if you’re doing any of the above to contact them always be polite and professional. It doesn’t help anyone to send an expletive laden e-mail.