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Maine: HB 950 Would Tax E-Cigarettes, Smokeless Tobacco, and Dissolvables at the Same Rate as Cigarettes (LD 1326)
[full text of HB 950] [legislative tracking]
If enacted, this bill would:
- Tax electronic cigarettes by redefining “tobacco products” under Maine tax law to include “products containing, made or derived from tobacco that are intended for human consumption by any means, or any components, parts or accessories of tobacco products.”
- Impose a wholesale tax on all smoke-free products (including e-cigarettes) that will be equivalent to the tax on a pack of cigarettes (currently $2.00). The Maine State Tax Assessor will be given the power to decide how this tax would be applied to e-cigarette disposables, liquid, mods, cartomizers, atomizers, batteries, etc.
- Make it a crime punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a $1,000 fine for a Maine citizen to import more than one pound of e-cigarette products (see Title 36, §4404-A)
- Require e-cigarette vendors to obtain a tobacco retail license to sell e-cigarettes (see Title 36, §4402)
- Make it a crime punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a $1,000 fine for a Maine e-cigarette vendor to sell products to any retailer who does not hold a Maine retail tobacco license. (see Title 36, §4404-B)
- Give law enforcement authorities the authority to seize e-cigarette products from citizens if they believe it to be contraband (i.e., it was obtained without paying the Maine tax). (see Title 36, §4404-B)
HB 950 has been referred to the Committee on Taxation, which is comprised of members of both the Maine Senate and House. No hearing has been scheduled. If you can attend the hearing or are in Maine and would like to offer your assistance in stopping this bill, please e-mail us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maine Citizens: In addition to contacting the below legislators, it is extremely important that you also speak to your own representatives. Click here to find out who represents you in the Maine Legislature here.
Please call or write the members of the Committee on Taxation below:
What to say:
1. You oppose HB 950 because it would impose a new, unwarranted tax on smoke-free electronic cigarettes. Further note that HB 950 would tax not only e-cigarette disposables and liquid that contains nicotine, but also hundreds of “components, parts, [and] accessories” like kits, mods, atomizers, cartomizers, and even batteries.
2. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette or smokeless tobacco has changed your life.
3. The purpose of increasing cigarette taxes has been to cover governmental healthcare expenditure caused by smoking and to discourage smoking. But since electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and dissolvables are 98-99% less hazardous than cigarettes, there is no fiscal or public health justification for such a hefty tax.
4. HB 950 turns over substantial legislative authority to the State Tax Assessor without providing any guidance on how to tax “other tobacco products” the same as cigarettes. How much tax would be charged on a $17 30 ml bottle of e-liquid? A $50 e-cigarette kit? A $200 e-cigarette kit? A $5 cartomizer? An $8 disposable? No one knows, and it will be entirely up to the State Tax Assessor to make this choice.
5. Tens of thousands of Maine consumers purchase e-cigarettes through online suppliers each year. Under HB 950, the importation of any e-cigarette products that collectively weigh more than a pound would be a crime punishable by up to six months in jail. This is bad public policy.
6. Since many/most e-cigarette sales are made online, enactment of this legislation would negatively impact businesses in Maine that sell e-cigarettes, as many consumers would choose to use out-of-state and international online suppliers.
7. Many smokers who switch to less hazardous electronic cigarettes do so because e-cigarettes are less expensive than cigarettes. Increasing the costs of e-cigarettes to that of cigarettes would discourage many smokers from switching to e-cigarettes. It could also encourage some e-cigarette consumers to go back to cigarette smoking.
Members of the Maine Legislature Committee on Taxation:
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Senator Anne M. Haskell (D-Cumberland), Chair
31 Higgins Street
Portland, ME 04103
Senator Rebecca J. Millett (D-Cumberland)
12 Waumbek Road
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
Senator Douglas A. Thomas (R-Somerset)
306 Stream Road Ripley, ME 04930
Rep. Adam A. Goode (D-Bangor) (Cosponsor)
P. O. Box 2681
Bangor, ME 04402
Rep. Stephen S. Stanley (D-Medway)
614 Pattagumpus Road
Medway, ME 04460
Rep. Nathan L. Libby (D-Lewiston)
12 Orange Street
Lewiston, ME 04240
Rep. Matthew W. Moonen (D-Portland)
17 Pine Street #2
Portland, ME 04102
Rep. Ryan D. Tipping-Spitz (D-Orono) (Cosponsor)
279 Main St
Orono, ME 04473
Rep. L. Gary Knight (R-Livermore Falls)*, Ranking Minority Member (Cosponsor)
453 Moose Hill Road
Livermore Falls, ME 04254
Rep. Paul Edward Bennett (R-Kennebunk)
6 Woodside Drive
Kennebunk, ME 04043
Rep. Donald G. Marean (R-Hollis)
233 Bonny Eagle Road
Hollis, ME 04042
Rep. Roger A. Jackson (R-Oxford) (Cosponsor)
50 Hebron Road
Oxford, ME 04270
Rep. Joseph E. Brooks (U-Winterport)
325 Stream Road
Winterport, ME 04496
Rep. Megan Rochelo (D-Biddeford) (Bill Sponsor — Not a Taxation Committee member)
P. O. Box 2433
Biddeford, ME 04005