EDITORIAL: Stomp e-cigarette taxes

E-cigarettes are not cigarettes. They’re not tobacco products. But that hasn’t stopped the anti-smoking brigade from demanding that the growing industry and its customers be regulated and taxed the same as cigarette makers and smokers.

So it was refreshing this month to see the Nevada Legislature all but extinguish a state proposal to tax electronic cigarettes and liquid nicotine as tobacco products.

E-cigarettes turn liquid nicotine into a vapor that users inhale. When they exhale, the vapor can look like a cloud of secondhand smoke, but it doesn’t stink and it quickly disappears. E-cigarettes are commonly used by smokers to help them quit cigarettes, but health zealots hate e-cigs because they offer flavors and their use resembles smoking.

The state Department of Taxation backs Senate Bill 79, which would hit e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine with a 30 percent tax on their wholesale prices. As reported by the Review-Journal’s Sandra Chereb, department officials told the Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee that nicotine should be subject to taxation if it is being used as a substitute for tobacco.

The committee didn’t buy that argument.

“Why would we discourage the safer alternative by taxing?” Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson asked.

Treating e-cigarettes like regular cigarettes is akin to applying alcohol taxes and regulations to soda pop. It makes no sense. Here’s hoping SB79 never sees the light of another hearing.

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