After much debate, an edited e-cigarette bill in Hawaii will not tax e-cigs at the 70% tobacco tax rate, but will restrict sales to minors.
E-cigarette bill, SB2233, was passed by the Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee Friday, Feb. 10, after members voted to delete language that would require a 70% tobacco tax on the devices, according to the Hawaii Reporter.
Meanwhile the main portion of the bill, restricting sales of e-cigarettes to minors, remains intact.
Those opposed to requiring a 70% tax on the devices, which deliver vaporized nicotine to users, noted the devices do not contain tobacco, do not emit hazardous or noxious smoke, and could help customers break smoking habits.
A sharp debate lead up to the vote. While all testimony agreed with a ban on selling products to minors, more than 1,000 people and companies protested the tobacco tax on e-cigarettes.
State Health Department Director Loretta Fuddy told members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, “There is very little known about the long term health effects of the use of e-cigarettes or the vapors given off. Recent studies have shown that within one liquid nicotine cartridge there is enough nicotine to cause serious illness or even death.”
Meanwhile, Cory Smith, president of local retailer Volcano Fine Electronic Cigarettes, said the product actually helps tobacco smokers quit their habits and produces none of the second-hand smoke issues associated with traditional tobacco cigarettes. He added that taxing e-cigarettes at the 70% tobacco rate would shut down his business and drive customers to the Internet or out-of-state to purchase the devices.