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.”
Just 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.