Watch Out for E Cigarette Taxes

Posted by Chris | E-Cig News | Monday 24 November 2014 5:58 pm

The next trend in e cigarette regulation is certainly sin taxes. Minnesota recently enacted one. Vapers who purchase their devices in Minnesota pay a whopping 95% tax on the wholesale price of the products. While this is applied to the wholesale price not the retail price, the tax is not actually double for consumers, but it is surely more than it should be. The scary thing is that other states may soon follow suit. They will call them sin taxes, but really it will just be local governments looking for more revenue.

Watch Out for E Cigarette TaxesThere are currently two notable areas that are openly debating applying taxes to vapor products. The City of Philadelphia is contemplating taxiing devices $2.00 each and e liquid at $0.50 per ml. This would pretty much put disposable electronic cigarettes into an insanely high price bracket, and would ensure that even PV users and modders would slowly have to pitch in. The State of Arizona has been mulling an e cigarette tax also. They haven’t released any actual numbers that we have found, but vapor has been a subject of debate in Arizona for a while now.

Cities in Arizona, such as Tempe, have been adding vaporizers and traditional electronic cigarettes to their smoking bans. While this is not a tax it does lay the groundwork for them. Once local governments lump vapor in with tobacco, it will be that much easier to convince the general public that they are befitting of a sin tax. What we are seeing is a well-crafted plan to enact a tax on vapor in the very near future. This level of organization has not shown up in tax proposals in other states yet. However, taxes are proposed and enacted by politicians, so it is only a matter of time.

This makes it as important as ever to point out the benefits of vapor. The argument will certainly be that e cigarettes are harmful to public health, and as such deserve a tax. The only way to stop this tactic is to continue to show that e cigarettes are one of the most significant harm reduction tools that have come about in recent years. They allow millions of people to choose a better means of transitioning away from smoking. Yes, there may be health issues that are related to electronic cigarettes. In spite of that nearly every health agency in the world, even those that oppose vapor, has suggested that it is likely less harmful to the body. This is the message that must continue to be shared. Multiple studies confirm it, and more are currently being performed. The reality is that governments of all sizes are looking for new revenue channels to make up for budget deficits. Politicians can’t balance budgets, so they tax something new instead. The bottom line is, well, the actual bottom line.

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New Study Shows That E Cigarettes DO Help Smokers to Quit

Posted by Chris | E-Cig News | Wednesday 19 November 2014 5:37 pm

While long term studies are ongoing, we are seeing more and more research released that gives the entire world more insight into how electronic cigarettes actually affect the body and tobacco smoking rates. Any time new studies are released it is important to share the results. This helps us to educate ourselves as vapers and to provide actual data, not hearsay, for regulators. This week a brand new study on the effectiveness of e cigarettes as quitting and harm reduction tools was released. Most vapor brands are no longer advertising the fact that e cigarettes are great ways to quit smoking due to fear of oversight from the FDA and other groups. This week’s study suggests that when the smoke clears, vapor brands might be best to go back to letting people know the truth.

New Study Shows That E Cigarettes DO Help Smokers to QuitThe International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has published a study that focused on smokers with no intention to give up e cigarettes. They split the smokers into three groups. One group, the control group, was initially told to continue smoking as they normally would. The other two groups were provided electronic cigarettes, and asked to mix them in with their tobacco use to see if vapor would help them to reduce their tobacco use or possibly quit smoking altogether. During the initial period of the study, all participants were monitored in a laboratory periodically and also answered questions about their tobacco use. The findings are quite eye-opening, regardless of how you may feel about vapor.

After two months, 34% of the participants that were introduced to e cigarettes stopped smoking altogether, while none of those who just smoked had kicked the habit. At this point the control group was also given electronic cigarettes and asked to work them into their daily routines.

After five months (3 months after the control group was provided with vapor devices), 37% of the participants that had always had access to vapor were no longer smoking, a 3% increase. When the control group that had had three moths with vapor were surveyed, 38% of them had stopped smoking and were only vaping.

After eight months the participants were again asked about their tobacco use. Of the participants that had e cigarettes for the entire eight months, 19% had kicked their smoking habits altogether and 25% of the control group were no longer smoking. When evaluating the total number of cigarettes smoked by all participants the researchers found that, as a group, the participants were smoking 60% fewer cigarettes than they had been when the study began eight months earlier.

In the end the researchers concluded that:

 “Reported benefits far outweighed the reported complaints. Conclusion: In a series of controlled lab sessions with e-cig naïve tobacco smokers, second generation e-cigs were shown to be immediately and highly effective in reducing abstinence induced cigarette craving and withdrawal symptoms, while not resulting in increases in eCO. Remarkable (>50 pc) eight-month reductions in, or complete abstinence from tobacco smoking was achieved with the e-cig in almost half (44%) of the participants.”

What does this tell us? Electronic cigarettes are a tool that can be used to help smokers to quit tobacco. Even those who do not quit completely show a tendency to smoke fewer cigarettes, which equates to harm reduction when a sample of the toxic chemicals in cigarettes is brought into account. While vapers already know all of this, the rest of the world is still undecided. This type of research is exactly what those who are on the fence need to hear. Vapor does have benefits, and those benefits can be verified by monitoring those who are slowly killing themselves with tobacco use.

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Some Smokers are Confused About Vapor Even After Use, Here’s Why

Posted by Chris | E-Cig News | Wednesday 5 November 2014 7:09 pm

How many times have you read an article that begins with something to the effect of “electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices that vaporize a liquid form of nicotine….?” This description is used, nearly word-for-word, in almost every article about vapor that we have read. From the large media outlets to local news sources, this is the extent to which vapor devices are defined for the general public. Sure, on a base level this is what electronic cigarettes are, but they are also so much more. Unfortunately this abbreviated definition is used over and over again, with few other facts being introduced. As a result it seems that the general public does not really understand vapor.

Some Smokers are Confused About Vapor Even After Use, Heres WhyThis lack of understanding shapes what people think of electronic cigarettes, and is carried into city council meetings and even voting booths. As a vaper, it is troubling because it shows that although vapor is getting boatloads of press, it is not really being depicted accurately, which leads to misconceptions, bans and very soon a lot more. This lack of knowledge was once again highlighted this week in the findings from the Liverpool Stop Smoking Services. They recently performed a study where they interviewed tobacco smokers, asking them about their knowledge, opinions and use of electronic cigarettes.  Their findings were rather eye-opening, considering that they spoke directly with smokers who have actually given vapor a try.

*53% of the smokers interviewed had tried electronic cigarettes at least once.

 

*Of those, roughly 46% reported having used them in the last month before the interview, showing that nearly half of smokers (surveyed) are willing to incorporate vapor        into their daily routines.

 

*The research found that many smokers, even those who have tried vapor, are still unclear on how effective it is as a quitting tool and how safe it is overall.

 

*The researchers discovered that many in the study had an indifferent opinion of e cigarettes, meaning they didn’t really care about the products one way or the other.

 

The end conclusion was that “Our results show that electronic cigarettes are commonly used by smokers wanting to quit and seek help through the Stop Smoking Services. Many smokers also viewed e-cigarettes negatively or indifferently as a way to stop smoking. This study highlights the need for better education regarding e-cigarettes, to enable smokers to make balanced, informed smoking cessation treatment decisions to help them quit.”

So, the information that is out there is: unclear, highly opinionated and hard for the average person to accurately decipher. Even some of those who have used the products are unable to form an opinion once they compare their own experiences to the headlines. In spite of this, nearly half of the smokers involved in the study who did try e cigarettes opted to keep on vaping. Clearly they found something that they liked, or at the very least developed positive opinions of vapor based upon how their bodies responded to replacing carcinogen-laden smoke with nicotine infused vapor.

This is a clear example of how the press can manipulate a story. The more stories that they put out about the unknown components of vapor, fires caused by faulty chargers and more solidifies itself within public opinion. If smokers who have tried vapor are still unclear, what do you think that your average nonsmoker thinks? It is more important than ever to be an advocate for vapor. Educate yourself on the scientific evidence that does exist concerning how vapor affects your body. Be sure to share the positive news stories that come out about how vapor helps smokers to quit. While we are all still awaiting more information, the onus is on us to share the positive sides of the argument, and there are certainly plenty. Even the researchers in the study mentioned here seem to see that electronic cigarettes have merit, and count them among the options for smoking cessation. It’s high time that more of the general public did the same.

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U.S. Senators Demand Stricter Warning Labels on E Cigarettes

Posted by Chris | E-Cig News | Monday 13 October 2014 11:57 am

You might have heard that many electronic cigarette manufacturers are now affixing warning labels to product packaging. This is being done by companies who know that regulations from the Food and Drug Administration are on the way. They are making moves to get ahead of the curve, and show that they are willing to play ball with regulations. This seems logical to most vapers, but it is apparently not enough for a group of U.S. Senators. Last week six Senators delivered a letter to Margaret Hamburg, The Commissioner of the FDA. In the letter they urged the FDA to move forward with regulations, and to adopt a unified warning label that would be required on all electronic cigarette and juice packaging.

U.S. Senators Demand Stricter Warning Labels on E Cigarettes Apparently the preemptive efforts of some of the current manufacturers are not enough. Pictured here we have a warning label that is being applied to Mark Ten electronic cigarettes. The verbiage warns of the addictive quality of nicotine, and lists potential effects. It also states that the products are not intended for children, nor should they be used by pregnant women. They finish the warning off by reminding users not to ingest e juice in any form but vapor. It looks pretty well thought out to us. The Senators disagree. They specifically take issue with the fact that the warning labels do not address the risks to adolescent brain development that may occur when pregnant women take in nicotine, and the risks associated with chemicals including benzene and formaldehyde, which are included in some juice blends. The Senators want to see a longer warning label applied to each and every e cigarette package that hits the shelves.

The FDA already had verbiage for a warning label planned. In their proposal they included a clause that would require that the following be printed on vapor packaging; “WARNING: This product contains nicotine derived from tobacco. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.” The way that this warning label was crafted intended to not only warn consumers, but to solidify that e cigarettes should be included in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, as they contain a derivative of the tobacco plant. While many vapers disagree with lumping e cigarettes in with tobacco, the FDA thinks that they should be and addressed this opinion in as many ways as they could, including the potential warning label. Still, this warning is not enough to satisfy these Senators. They want a longer waning, that includes more potential issues. They also want the exact same warning on every vapor product. One of their complaints in the letter was that currently manufacturers who are applying warning labels by choice are not sending a uniform message to consumers. The Senators did not draft a warning of their own, which seems strange considering that they are urging for a very specific message to be applied.

While taking issue with warning labels might seem small, this letter shows that government officials of all levels are calling for e cigarette regulation to move forward. It also shows that there will likely be changes to the FDA’s proposal before the final draft is approved and made law. As for warnings, we don’t think that the FDA needs to require that all e cigarette packaging contain an essay-sized warning label. Tobacco cigarettes do not even have to include such lengthy warnings, and most Senators would probably agree that vapor is far safer for the body than smoke. The mainstream media has even been pointing out that current e cigarette warning labels are “absurd” in length. A warning label will be a part of future packaging. However, there is little benefit in requiring that a laundry list of side effects be applied to each and every package. Enacting a stricter standard for vapor than actual tobacco sounds more like a witch hunt than common sense regulation.

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Totally Wicked Argues E Cigarettes’ Role in the EU Tobacco Products Directive

Posted by Chris | E-Cig News | Monday 6 October 2014 2:25 pm

Totally Wicked has established themselves as a big name in electronic cigarettes and e juices throughout the world. They provide vapers in numerous countries with the supplies that they need to ditch tobacco. The fact that they help smokers to remove tobacco from their lives has become the central point of an argument that Totally Wicked is bringing to the Court of Justice of the EU. Just this week, Totally Wicked’s European branch was awarded the right to formally challenge the EU Tobacco Products Directive. Under this piece of legislation electronic cigarettes would be subject to the same restrictions and limitations that tobacco burning cigarettes must bow to in the European Union. According to the team at Totally Wicked, e cigarettes might actually be subject to more strict treatment than some tobacco products, if the law comes to pass.

Totally Wicked Argues E Cigarettes’ Role in the EU Tobacco Products DirectiveThe EU Tobacco Products Directive lays out the specifics for how all tobacco products will be regulated in every country in the European Union. It contains specific provisions for electronic cigarettes; how they would be introduced, marketed, sold, taxed and more in one specific section, Article 20. It is this Article that Totally Wicked is taking issue with. While their hope is that the EU will scratch e cigarettes from its list of tobacco products altogether before laws come to pass, they would like to see changes made to this section of the legislation even if vapor is to be included. Their Managing Director, Fraser Cropper, released the following statement along with the announcement of their ability to take up the fight against the impending regulation:

“Today marks an important step in our legal challenge. Article 20 of the TPD would result in electronic cigarettes being subjected to a stricter regulatory regime than some tobacco products. Not only is this article therefore disproportionate, we believe it is also contrary to established EU law. It is therefore vitally important that the UK court has decided that the CJEU should make a ruling on the lawfulness of Article 20.

For the sake of e-cigarette users and potential users, it is vital that our industry is allowed to mature within a proportionate regulatory framework, which supports appropriate controls and safety requirements, and necessary social responsibility and continues to provide consumer choice to maximise the enormous potential of these products. Article 20 of this Directive patently will not deliver this environment.”

It looks as if their argument will take two positions. First, they intend to make a case that e cigarettes should not be included in the tobacco category, period. After all, e juices do not actually contain tobacco. Unfortunately there is not a very good chance that they will win this portion of their challenge. Where they hopefully will have success is with their fight to change the language that limits how e cigarettes will be introduced, distributed and sold throughout the European Union. If the Directive is to pass, with Article 20 reading as it currently does, it would be considerably more difficult to distribute electronic cigarettes in some of the world’s largest markets. While this is obviously unfair, giving tobacco products a competitive advantage over e cigarettes could also take a toll on public health. Anything that makes it more difficult for smokers to find and purchase a well-made vapor device is clearly bad for public health.

This marks the first time that an electronic cigarette manufacturer has been granted legal authority to challenge the EU Tobacco Products Directive. The growth of the vapor community has produced several companies with the resources to take on such a fight. It is good to see that one of them is using these resources to do just that. The particulars of electronic cigarette laws can literally make or break the industry. If more money is not allotted to ensuring that the verbiage that comes to pass gives the vapor industry a fair shake, it will be detrimental to vapers everywhere. Lower quality products and higher prices will all but certainly result. Stay tuned for updates on Totally Wicked’s progress in Europe.

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Reynolds American Submits Arguably Anti-Vapor Document to FDA

Posted by Chris | E-Cig News | Tuesday 9 September 2014 3:57 pm

One of the dangers of Big Tobacco entering the electronic cigarette world has always been the likelihood of their using their stacks of cash, and Rolodex’s full of contacts to take over the vapor industry. Once they have control they will gut it, scale it, mark up the price and count our money. While we have known this for some time now there haven’t been many instances that we have been able to point to that prove these intentions. Until now, that is. An article published over the weekend in the Winston-Salem Journalreports that representatives from the Reynolds American Corporation, makers of Vuse e cigarettes, have written a 119 page document intended for the Food and Drug Administration. In this document the company makes some suggestions for how the FDA should treat certain types of vapor products.

No Open-System Vapor Products

Reynolds American Submits Arguably Anti Vapor Document to FDAThe document suggests that the FDA ban open-system vapor devices. In essence this means everything that isn’t a cig-a-like or similar device that takes replacement cartomizers. Yes, that is correct. Reynolds is suggesting that your personal vaporizers and mechanical mods should be outlawed. Why, you ask. According to Reynolds American these devices are just plain unsafe. They are claiming that as not all e juices are created equally consumers may be opening themselves up to taking in unnecessary toxins, which is of course unsafe. Quite a claim from a company that collects billions annually from tobacco sales. They didn’t stop there with their love of public safety, apparently they are also concerned that some people may use such vaporizers for illegal drugs. The cherry on top is that they suggest that open-system vapes allow for users to vape flavored juices, which may appeal to children. You see, Reynolds American just wants to help fight crime and increase public safety.

All of these claims are ridiculous. They are clearly put together to spin an argument that favors Reynolds’ product line of cig-a-likes with limited flavors. If they can work with the FDA to draft legislation that best matches their goals and products, then they get a check in the “win’ column. Simultaneously sounding like they care about the general public, and putting the competition out of business don’t hurt either. It’s called lobbying, and it’s not always for elected officials. As they have done in the past, Reynolds wants to use their war chest to control the market, whether it is good for consumers or not.

While there is no sign that this tactic will work, it gives us a clear view of how Big Tobacco thinks. Vapers are not people, they are customers. They should be told what to buy, not given the option to buy the products that they prefer. Clearly what we should buy are devices that require us to stick to one brand of liquid, which will eventually cost us more as we have to purchase replaceable atomizers over time. The fact that they are willing to throw flavors under the bus makes it appear as if they are looking to meet in the middle when it comes to gaining support from legislators who are stuck on the “save the children” argument. At the end of the day it is nothing more than political scheming. A plan with a similar intended result was hatched in Europe last year. Lobbyists, likely from Big Pharma or Big Tobacco, suggested that taxes should be based on the amount of nicotine per container. Meaning that replacement cartomizers would be subject to lower taxes than your standard bottle of refillable juice, as they contain less juice. It was shot down overseas, hopefully the same happens here. It is important to note that Reynolds is releasing this document well after the period for public comment has closed. Both Altria and Lorillard submitted comments while the topic was officially up for discussion. Reynolds does not seem to care about scheduling.

What To Do

Every individual is capable of making their own decisions. For us, we will likely be avoiding spending money on any of Reynolds’ products. We had plans to make Vuse the subject of an upcoming electronic cigarette review. Now that they have drawn a line in the sand we are not so sure that will happen. How will you respond to a corporation suggesting that your vapor rights be limited?

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The American Heart Association Officially Addresses E Cigarettes

Posted by Chris | E-Cig News | Monday 25 August 2014 4:13 pm

The American Heart Association has released a policy statement concerning electronic cigarettes. In this 20 page document the AHA’s team addresses their definition of e cigarettes, provides feedback on how they feel that the products should be regulated, and draws conclusions from a variety of studies and past research. This development is important, as the opinion of a group such as the American Hear t Association will surely be taken into account by federal lawmakers and the public at large.

The American Heart Association Officially Addresses E Cigarettes All in all the American Heart Association does not take a definitive stance on e cigarettes. They do state that they agree with the FDA’s plan to regulate vapor products the same way that they approach tobacco products. Specifically they mention guidelines for: age limitations, advertising restrictions, quality control protocols, and standards for contaminants that exist in e juice or are produced by the vaporization process. They also propose that vapor products and e juices be taxed at the same rate as tobacco cigarettes. They even suggest taxing vapor at this rate, and increasing the tax on traditional smokes. In their opinion all tax proceeds should be applied to anti-smoking, and eventually anti-vaping, campaigns. While this opinion is heavily touted in the document, the authors also point out that vapor does have positives. They specifically state that regulated e cigarettes should be available to current smokers: “Even if there are some intrinsic adverse health effects of e-cigarettes there would be a public health benefit if e-cigarettes proved to be much less hazardous than combustible cigarettes and if smokers could switch entirely from conventional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.”

While at certain points in the document they  suggest that smokers first try FDA approved smoking cessation aids like gum or the patch, they point out early in the release that “Spontaneous reports and clinical trial data have reported common minor side effects of throat and mouth irritation, dry cough, nausea, and vomiting. No serious adverse effects have been reported in clinical trials of >6 months of use compared with nicotine patches, with no difference between groups.” This somewhat shaky approach is taken throughout the policy statement. First they say that e cigarettes can be dangerous, likely contain some level of toxins (trace levels is what they cite), and may potentially glamorize smoking and lead to further nicotine dependency. Then in the next breathe they point out the positives of the devices and share facts from studies that place the nicotine level in a person’s blood to be lower after vaping than after smoking an analog on average. They address that it would be beneficial overall if smokers turned to vaping, but then hypothesize that the availability of e cigarettes may lead to more nicotine dependency. They do look at e cigarettes as quitting tools, effective ones at that, but they do not always seem to like doing it.

The American Heart Association Officially Addresses E Cigarettes An emphasis on more research is promoted throughout the statement. While we wholeheartedly agree, the document does share some very interesting facts. For instance, they paint a portrait of your average vaper as being “Generally non-Hispanic whites, current smokers, and those with a higher education and higher income perceive e-cigarettes as being less harmful than combustible tobacco products and are more likely to use them.” This statement is made as a result of reviewing survey and research subjects. While it may be moving in the right direction, it also shows that much of the research that has been done may not account for all populations that exist in the United States. The number of vapers grows every day. With this growth comes a more diverse user base. Did the researchers not target enough non-white vapers? Did they ignore users that do not command high incomes? The point of bringing this up is not to stir up a political debate. The point is to highlight that future research needs to target every segment of society. Smokers are among the ranks of every segment that anyone may care to divide out. Vapers are also, and the numbers are rising as this article is being written. More research is a necessity, but this research must address our society as a whole, and focus on e cigarettes as individual items. If they are likened tobacco cigarettes, even unofficially, it is hard to believe that research will be unbiased.

The document goes on to state that more research on the actual health effects of vaping be performed. This is key in our opinion as well. We want to know if vaping is actually a relatively harmless pastime, or if it just represents a reduction in risk and exposure to carcinogens. This data is what will truly define vaping, and should be the number one consideration when regulations are concerned. In either case we are still on team e cig. So far the major media outlets seem to be interpreting this policy statement on their own. Some outlets are reading it and reporting that the American Heart Association is in fact in favor of vapor. Others are saying that they are not. If you are interested in the future of vaing, we suggest you take the time to read the document. It will likely be used as evidence in future hearings and policy meetings, starting now.

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Michigan’s E Cig Ban Claims Children But Targets Money

Posted by Chris | E-Cig News | Wednesday 20 August 2014 4:35 pm

Bans on vaping indoors, bans on vaping on college campuses, and of course bans on e cigarettes being sold to minors are all the rage these days. While the last form of ban makes a whole lot of sense, actually watching the regulation process happen shows us the ugly reality of many regulations. The talks always start out with safety and health concerns, and then at some point verbiage that would introduce a tax comes into play. Sometimes the politicians are at least honest enough simply call it a tax. In many cases, like the latest example out of Michigan, they defer to an umbrella term. You’ve probably heard a lot about this term lately, it is usually worded in manner like “tobacco category.”

Michigans E Cig Ban Claims Children But Targets MoneyJust like the FDA, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder, is ready to apply regulation to vapor products but wants them to be lumped in with tobacco. The Michigan State Senate and House have both already debated and passed a bill to Snyder’s office to be signed. This was done months ago, yet the bill sat stagnant until recently. The bill addresses minimum age for use and purchase of electronic cigarettes in the State of Michigan, setting the legal age at 18. What the bill did not do was classify vapor products as being tobacco products or enact a tax on them. The lack of a tax is widely viewed as the reason that Snyder refused to sign the bill. He agrees that minors shouldn’t have access to vapor, but is willing to prolong good legislation in favor of increased tax revenues. He is on record as saying that he would be happy adding vapor products to the tobacco category, and even hinted at vetoing a bill that did not include a tax.

So is this just another example of “politics as usual?” Unfortunately it seems as if it is. As much as we here at CR disagree with “save the children” tactics we do agree with banning minors from purchasing and using the devices. A bill that cuts off access to minors while leaving adults to make their own decisions and limiting taxes sounds perfect. We literally didn’t think that we would see such common-sense legislation introduced anywhere. Lo and behold it actually happened. This exact type of legislation made it through both a State House and State Senate, and came out without additional taxes. The children were to be saved and vapers were to be left alone, that’s as win-win as it gets. Until money came into play that is.

In the end the truth really did come out. Tax revenue is equally, if not more, important to many politicians than public safety, health, or the children. While politicians will boost themselves up on a platform that they know sounds good and will garner public support, they will willingly thwart good legislation if it doesn’t pay out. Initially talks in Michigan suggested that the bill should be re-written to include e cigarettes in the tobacco category for regulation and taxation purposes. The silver lining is that many in the Wolverine State disagreed. It now appears that a tax will be added, but that the percentage will be lower than that applied to actual cigarettes. The bill is being sent back to the House and Senate for discussion and is expected to be agreed upon shortly.  This is just another example of an illogical political process that serves to highlight the fact that the e cigarette debate is just as much about money as it is about children or public health. It’s sad to see, but is a reality that all vapers need to be aware of.

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