LACEY, Wash. — The price of vaping could soon skyrocket if a proposed 60 percent tax is passed by lawmakers.
"It's like being told, ‘We're going to put a new tax on your favorite pizza.’ No! Don't do that!” said Jim Music.
Washington lawmakers introduced HB 1873. It would add a 60 percent tax to vapor products, which is similar to tobacco. Currently vape isn’t taxed.
Vapor store owner Joshua Baba said vape is different than tobacco and the price hike would force many shops to close their doors.
"Sixty-percent, we owe that to the state just all of a sudden? That's crazy. That does put me out of business,” he said.
Standing in the rain, Monday afternoon a small group held signs and gathered to protest.
“Those kind of numbers are scary to somebody. I go through a couple bottles of vapor juice a week and that's going to double my cost,” said Music.
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A new Washington State Health Youth survey shows e-cigarettes and vaping are on the rise. Thirty-percent of high school seniors said they use vapor products, which is up from 20 percent in 2016.
State Rep. Gerry Pollet proposed the House Bill. He wants to see the numbers drop and believes a tax is the ticket.
“E-cigarettes and vaping products are dirt cheap, you won't believe how cheap they are," he said. “A pack of cigarettes in the state of Washington, on average, costs about a little more than $8. Vaping the same amount of nicotine will cost you about $2."
Lawmakers believe the tax will drop youth vaping by 25 percent. Others find that hard to believe.
“This tax isn't going to change where the kids are getting it or how they're getting it, but it is going to change, in a negative way, the lives of a lot of shop owners and a lot of product users that are fully in compliance with the law,” said Music.
Pollet said the 60 percent tax would eventually raise as much $30 million per year. The money would be used to fund programs that work to prevent teens from vaping.