Trump Wants to Tax Your Juul

The White House's budget proposal would subject E-cigarettes and vaping products to a new "user fee," but it's really just a tax.



President Donald Trump's budget proposal would make vaping more expensive by targetting e-cigarettes with a new "user fee" intended to generate $100 million annually.

The tax would fund regulatory programs and public health campaigns run by the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products—despite the fact that there is no tobacco used in e-cigarettes, which instead use nicotine-laced fluids. Cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco are already subject to the FDA's user fees.

Extending those fees to e-cigarettes, the White House budget proposal says, is necessary to ensure that the FDA "has the resources to address today's alarming rise in youth e-cigarette use."

It's true that vaping is on the rise amoung teens. According to last year's National Youth Tobacco Survey, which is conducted annually by the Centers for Disease Control, 20.8 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2018, up from just 11.7 percent in 2017.

But whether or not $100 million in new taxes on e-cigarettes will change that remains debatable, as does the more basic question of whether an increase in youth vaping is a public health problem at all. After all, e-cigarettes are far less dangerous than traditional, combustible cigarettes—as much as 95 percent less hazardous, according to some studies—and smoking rates among teenagers have continued to decline even as as e-cigarette use has surged.

As Reason's Jacob Sullum put it last year: "To the extent that teenagers who would otherwise be smoking are vaping instead, that should count as a public health victory."

Indeed, by imposing the same taxes and regulations on e-cigarettes as traditional cigarettes, the Trump administration is aiming to treat the products as equals when they clearly are not. Making it more difficult and expensive to vape may cause more young people to take up smoking, and may make it more difficult for smokers who want to use e-cigarettes as a way to quit their unhealthier habit.

"If the intent here is to achieve tax parity between cigarettes and vapor products, that is a huge mistake and a massive giveaway to Big Tobacco," says Liz Mair, a strategist for Vapers United, a nonprofit that opposes vaping taxes at the state and federal levels. "If your concern is improving public health, either as a matter of altruism and ethics or pure concern for taxpayers' pocketbooks, your policy should generally be to keep vapor taxes much lower than cigarette taxes to incentivize people to try to quit smoking using them."

Whether as a cash-grab or an attempt at nudging consumers towards healthier choices, the Trump administration's proposed vaping tax seems like bad policy. Congress has a long history of ignoring the president's budget in favor of writing its own—this is one idea that Congress should have no qualms about discarding.

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  1. “…this is one idea that Congress should have no qualms about discarding.”

    I think you misspelled “doubling” as “discarding”.

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  2. Democrats must be seething with Jealousy.

    1. OK, Diane — Would you *kindly* clue me in on this?

      1. Everything must be framed in terms of owning the Dems.

      2. It seems Trump is doing everything the Dems have been attempting for years. Trillion dollar infrastructure budgets, taxing tobacco…

      3. Or shorter, you know who else wants a trillion dollar infrastructure plan and taxes from cigarettes and vaping?

        1. Well yeah, Trump wants to tax-punish you for importing goods from that them thar ferriners, and call it “patriotic protectionism-jism” of “good jerbs fer that them thar Goood Amrikkkans”.

          Then He wants to tax the shit outta ya, and confiscate yer border properties, to build a Sacred Beautiful Wall, to keep the un-Americans OUT! Eventually he wants to draft yer sons and daughters to staff the border armies.

          So if you want to Juul instead of smoke? Tax the living SHIT outta ya! Fits right in!!!

        2. Not anymore, because now Trump wants it so they have to oppose it, just like they used to support increased border security but now fight tooth and nail against it

          Just look at the approval ratings for NAFTA. In 2008 Democrats were less approving of it than Republicans, although about equal, at 41% and 43% respectively

          Since Trump came on the scene however, not only have the opinions reversed, Democrat approval has swelled to 71% in 2017, while Republican approval fell to 34% While there is certainly an element of herd mentality on both sides a 30% jump in approval is quite astonishing

  3. Trump Wants to Tax Your Juul

    How about taxing your “family jewels”? It’s like property tax, *and* there can be an additional “user fee” for even more revenue!

    1. Hey, some of us are among the 1% in that department and would be disproportionately affected.

  4. I think Reason’s ad coding has partially clobbered the ability to comment.

    1. Those fucking ads at the bottom of the screen are the gonorrhea of this website.

  5. The “vaping industry” hired NeverTrump-skank Liz Mair? They must really want to collect taxes.

    1. So you better hire the right people or you get taxed? Man, I don’t want to live in your Libertopia.

      1. I don’t think he was talking about what ought to be…. Just describing what is.

  6. The Government wants to keep the gravy train rolling and everyone smoking cigarettes instead of safer alternatives. Of course, if they can get you to live longer and still pay the same taxes as if you were a smoker it’s win/win for them.

    1. I suppose you have put your finger on the problem. You don’t live longer and pay more taxes. You live longer and withdraw more social security, more Medicare, more Senior benefits. in order for this Ponzi scheme to work, you have to pay taxes until you are 65 and then keel over dead in the next 5 years.

  7. So much for this administration being anti-tax, they have been as anti-vape as I imagine Hillary would have been, of course, she might just have tried to ban ecigs completely. Point is that ecigs still generally cost more than tobacco cigs, though not as much as they used to, so I don’t think, unless they make the tax really huge, this will reduce consumption and may just drive vapers back to smoking

    1. A Juul pod = 1 pack of cigarettes and costs $4. They sell in a four pack. The rechargeable battery part with the USB charger can last for years. If you order from the website you can get a discount.

      They only sell the tobacco and menthol flavors in stores. The others can only be purchased on the website which does age verification by drivers license. You can opt to have signature requirement for delivery.

      A pack of cigarettes average cost is around $6 and more than double that in some states.

      They cannot wait to tax and regulate it. That is what government does.

      1. We bought one of these for my sister-in-law and interest of her health. We bought a clone of the juul for 35 bucks, including a vial of e fluid that probably equals a couple of cartons of cigarettes. It is way cheaper, doesn’t stink you up and is at least 95% less likely to kill you.

      2. You can purchase knock-off “Juul-compatible” pods in all flavors in stores, slightly cheaper than official Juul pods as well (and in a wider variety of flavors)

        They even make refillable pods that are even cheaper to use

      3. Juul type units are a rip off. Buying proper vaping stuff that uses big tanks is EXPONENTIALLY cheaper than smoking.

        Me and another used to spend nearly $800 a month on smokes… I haven’t bothered to average it out as I buy in bulk, but I bet we spend less than 1/10th that now vaping.

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  9. More tax and spend from a 1980s democrat. Shocker.

  10. On a heap of stupid policies, this may be the dumbest one yet. A user fee would ostensibly be to mitigate costs imposed by an activity. so it would make sense for smoking from the point of view of public health costs.

    But vaping actually reduces public health costs. so a user fee for that is stupid at a metaphysical level. In fact, it would probably pay to subsidize vaping over smoking.

    It is times like this when you can see just how slim the veneer of legitimacy is over the organized crime money-grubbing aspect of government.

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  12. Still. California is taxing this crap to death, and will tax it even more in the future. We even raised the smoking age to 21. You can vote, but you can’t smoke! Stupid. It is a shame to see a Republican administration jump on this too, but money is money. And, those of you who believe it’s ok because smoking is bad, so we got to tax it, should be right on board with California’s new soda tax. So, I propose a federal porn tax. We’ll have Google monitor how much online porn you watch, which you know they already do, and charge you a fee. Like a .05 per hour. So, if we assume just 100 million people watch an average of 2 hours of porn a week, this gives us 10 million dollars a week, 520 million a year! And I bet my numbers are an underestimate. So a billion a year, or more, and rising!! We can build the Wall, and have porn pay for it!

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