In an effort to raise much-needed funding and help Kentuckians breathe easier, a House committee cleared a measure that would add an excise tax to vaping products

The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, would add vaping-related items to the list of “other tobacco products” — which excludes cigarettes — in state law. The wholesale tax on “other tobacco products” would then be raised from 15% to 35%. Cigarettes would not be affected.

Currently, vaping products are only subjected to the 6% retail goods sales tax. According to Miller, if the measure passes, it is expected to raise close to $50 million over two years.

Not only will an increased tax on vaping products help boost state revenue, but health officials believe it will also deter youths from picking up the habit.

Did you know that in 2017 14.1% of Kentucky high schoolers admitted to e-cigarette usage compared to 13.2% nationally? More than 14% had smoked at least one cigarette in the last 30 days.

“We’ve seen such an explosion in young kids — middle schoolers and high schoolers,” said Rep. Kim Moser, R-Independence, chair of the House Health and Family Services Committee. “We really need to get a handle on this.”

Just last month a Kentuckian in his late 20s died from what public health officials say appears to have been an illness related to vaping. Even though the man’s death is listed as “probably” caused by e-cigarette usage, he joins a list of more than 50 Americans in 27 states and Washington, D.C., whose deaths have been linked to vaping-related illnesses. Across the country, more than 2,000 others have been hospitalized with lung injuries.

We believe that one “probable” death is one too many, regardless of the victim’s age. Now is the time for legislators to take a stand against the vaping epidemic by voting for a tax increase on e-cigarette-related products.

The benefits of the measure are twofold — to help curb youth vaping by making the habit more expensive and to create needed revenue for the state.

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