Chicago may hike the city’s already absurd vape tax, The Sun Times reports.
Currently, Chicago’s tax is 80 cents per vaping device or container and 55 cents per milliliter of liquid nicotine. Combined with other tobacco product sales taxes in the city, county, and state, Chicago has the highest taxes on tobacco related products in the nation.
Under new city ordinance, if passed, tax rates would be $1.50 and $1.20, respectively, effectively doubling them.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced the proposal. “We need to counter marketing to prohibit youth access, and I am committed to expand restrictions on e-cigarettes, supporting youth to make healthy choices — and protecting residents from tobacco,” Emanuel told Chicago Sun Times’ Michael Sneed in an interview. “I hate tobacco! I really hate it,” Emanuel emphatically told Sneed.
Last week, Kenneth Fox, Chief Health Officer for Chicago Public Schools, and other public health advocates in support of the tax change joined Chicago Department of Health officials at a press conference to announce the potential policy.
Their goal is simple: Raise taxes on vape products to keep them out of the hands of kids. If smokeless alternatives like the Juul or the Phix and their pods are more expensive, kids for sure cannot afford them. Similarly, the tax would deter adults from buying the products for resale to minors at higher prices.
Economists say increased tobacco taxes decreased sales, and the city expects the same result if their vape tax policy passes. They have been careful, though, not to overtax and drive users back to combustible cigarettes.
Director of Health Policy at the Chicago-based Respiratory Health Association, Matt Maloney, was quick to reject the idea that the tax would lead to unintended consequences. Cigarette tax rates and their decreased use show how unappealing they are as alternatives to pod vapes. “It’s a reminder that the city and the state have made great strides in terms of reducing tobacco use,” Maloney told the Sun Times’ Adam Thorp.
Chicago has already introduced a number of ordinances to curb vaping and e-cigarette use in the city. Retailers who sell e-cigs and other vape products are required to post ‘warning signs’ about the dangers of tobacco alternatives in their stores, as well as a the number for a city-run ‘quit smoking’ hotline. Back in June, Alderman Edward Burke introduced an ordinance that would ban all flavored e-cigarette products.