Should e-cigarettes be taxed in Arizona? - Tucson News Now

Should e-cigarettes be taxed in Arizona?

Source: Tucson News Now Source: Tucson News Now
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A $1 billion shortfall in the state budget by 2016 could be reason for state lawmakers to tax electronic cigarettes.

It's one of several possibilities, according to State Rep. Stefanie Mach from Tucson. She said a tax on e-cig would not fix the problem completely, but it could help the problem.

"It's not a silver bullet," she said. "But we need to start talking about this now."

She said it's too soon to have specifics about the plan, but she considers it an idea that is not defined by party lines.

Emily Moreno, a cigarette smoker in Tucson, said she spends about $300 each month on her habit. She said some of her friends have quit traditional tobacco products for the electronic alternative, and increasing prices a bit should not be an issue.

"I really don't see it being too bad of a problem, unless they want to tax it as much as they tax cigarettes and liquor," she said. “"But still, it wouldn't be as much as you spend on cigarettes."

Keith Reinhart, owner of Old Pueblo Vapor Lounge, said he worries a tax would cost so much that smokers would not save any money by switching to e-cigs, and never try them as an option for quitting their current habit.

He estimates a first-time user would spend $40 - $80 each month. If the prices jump too high, he said small businesses will lose their customers to online sales. By doing that, they lose the interaction with an experienced sales person to teach the basics of smoking, maintaining a device and general use.

"Take that out and they just get something in the mail and try to figure it out," he said. "(They) become frustrated and light a cigarette. That's not doing anybody any good."

Misty Mason, co-owner of Tucson Vape Escape, said the community of former tobacco users that's grown around electronic cigarettes would fight any plan to for a tax.

"It's like punishing people who have made a healthier life choice," she said.

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