Way back in 2010, New Jersey became one of the first states to enact a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes in public. Now, Chris Christie plans to continue the state’s history of early e-cigarette legislation adoption with a newly proposed tax on the devices as part of Jersey’s 2015 budget plan.
Christie plans to tax e-cigarettes and e-liquid at the same $2.70 per pack rate that cigarettes have, with legislators apparently worrying that taxing e-cigarettes less than traditional tobacco would be “sending a message out there that they’re somehow safer,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson. By some estimations, the tax could bring an average 30ml bottle of e-liquid to a total of about $100 because it would be taxed the same as a carton of cigarettes—currently, flavored e-liquid costs around $20 to $30 for that same amount.
A hike in price like that likely will all but destroy brick and mortar vape shops, along with inadvertently driving some e-cigarette users back to using traditional cigarettes. Currently, e-cigarettes in New Jersey are taxed at a rate of7 percent under the state’s wholesale tobacco tax, and this new tax stands to generate upwards of $35 million in additional revenue a year.
Public hearings on the proposed tax begin March 12, and the web-based e-cigarette community has already begun rallying for defense. Good thing, too—Jersey is just across an increasingly blurred state line, so this one likely will bleed over into Pennsylvania eventually.
And then, proposed public bans aside, we’re really in trouble.