Bill to tax vaping like tobacco products clears House committee

The House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation that would tax e-cigarettes, such as vaping devices, the same as tobacco products.

The bill would place an excise tax equivalent to the $1.01 federal levy per pack of cigarettes on tobacco alternatives. The legislation is a response to a rapid increase in the use of vaping devices, particularly among teenagers and young adults. The legislation was approved by the committee 24-15 Wednesday and will now advance to a vote in the full House.

“Increasing the cost of vaping will have a direct correlation to decreasing the usage of vaping products,” Representative Tom Suozzi, the New York Democrat who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement.

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The bill is estimated to raise nearly $10 billion over a decade, according to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

Vaping has come under bipartisan scrutiny after an increase in lung illness and deaths associated with using e-cigarette products. President Donald Trump said last month his administration will restrict access to the devices, though hasn’t released specifics.

Senate Democrats have introduced similar legislation. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has said he wants to consider legislation to curb underage vaping.

JUUL Labs Inc. the largest e-cigarette maker in the U.S., said last week it is suspending sales of most flavored nicotine pods nationwide, a reaction to the outcry from policy makers and the public who said fruit and dessert flavors were hooking teens. It will continue selling mint, menthol and tobacco flavor pods in stores and online.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed at least 1,479 cases of lung illness associated with e-cigarette and vaping products, with at least 33 deaths so far.

— Laura Davison and Kaustuv Basu
Bloomberg News