Fran Spielman from the Chicago Tribune recently reported that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel intends to propose a new tax on vapor products, and this proposed tax would be “roughly equivalent” to the $7.17 tax on tobacco cigarettes in Chicago.
In response to this report, the American Vaping Association, an advocate for the benefits of vapor products, is calling out Emanuel for prioritizing tax dollars ahead of public health.
“Mayor Emanuel’s message to smokers is clear—please don’t quit. The government desperately needs your money,” said Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association. “This is a shameless tax grab that will not only cost lives, but also put most or all of Chicago’s 20-plus vapor retail stores out of business. Instead of shopping at Chicago businesses, residents will simply purchase outside the city limits or online.”
Last month, the U.K. government watchdog organization Public Health England released a 111-page report on electronic cigarettes. Among other points, the report notes that electronic cigarettes are likely to be around 95% less hazardous than smoking, are helpful to smokers looking to quit and that there is no evidence that vaping is acting as a gateway to smoking for youth.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported earlier this week that adult smoking has reached an all-time low. From 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, adult smoking dropped from 16.8% to 15.2%. This report led Dr. Michael Siegel, professor of public health at the Boston University School of Public Health, to mock those who claim that vaping is somehow ‘renormalizing’ smoking.
“Vapor products are helping adult smokers quit. Taxing these smoke-free and tobacco-free products like cigarettes will prove to be a fatal mistake,” said Conley. “We encourage the Chicago City Council to prioritize the health of its citizens over tax revenue by rejecting Mayor Emanuel’s plan.”