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Utah lawmakers recommend e-cigarette tax bill to reduce vaping "epidemic" in young people



CITY OF SALT LAK – State lawmakers hope to add to recent local and national efforts to curb the use of pens and e-cigarettes, especially among young people.

Temporary Committee on Health and Human Services, chaired by the Sen. Alan M. Christensen, R-North Ogden and rap. Brad M. Dow, R-Orem, unanimously agreed Wednesday to recommend a bill to tax e-cigarettes.

Michael Siler, a student advocate for e-vamping, said the purpose of the bill to change e-cigarettes and other nicotine was to get young people to give up, stop them from using tobacco and marijuana and reduce costs for medical care that may result from the use of electronic cigarettes.

He said that the organization's current projections show that 1

8.3%, or nearly 42,000, of Utah youths 13-17 use electronic cigarettes and vaping products daily.

The bill will impose an excise duty of 86% of the manufacturer's price on the sale of e-cigarettes and other nicotine products, increase

"Young consumers are very sensitive to price increases and a significant number of young people will refuse these products for every 10% increase in price, "said Siler.

Cade Hyde and McGyver Clark, students against e-vamping, called Wednesday's committee meeting a success.

"We know this bill is research-based and there is evidence to prove it will work," Hyde said.

In 2015, Hyde and Clark started a student group while attending Davis High School after noticing the increased use of e-cigarettes among their peers.

Clark said the group was trying to accept the 2016 bill.

"There are many obstacles. … One of the biggest is just access to research, "he said. "We now have news articles coming in from all over the country every day showing that e-cigarettes are a toxic, dangerous product."

Earlier this year, Utah became the eighth state to raise the age of tobacco to 21. In addition, pulmonologists at the University of Utah have reported an increase in "vaping-related" lung conditions over the past few months, and have called for for more e-cigarette warning labels and vapel pens.

"It is imperative that we do something about it," Christensen told the Interim Committee on Health and Human Services. "We currently have 17 states that have put taxes on devices to try and delay this epidemic."

Earlier this summer, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban electronic cigarettes.

"It bothers me to say that San Francisco has come to Utah and taken the step of actually banning vaping in the city, and Utah can't manage to do anything about it," says Christensen.

Sen. Evan J. Vickers, the city of Cedar City, said it "cautiously" supported the bill and said its educational component was critical because of the continued perception that vaping was considered "cool." It hopes tax revenue from the amendment if 18.3%, or nearly 42,000, Utah youth ages 13-17, or nearly 42,000 using e-cigarettes and vaping products daily

–Michael Siler


Vickers applauded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make a vaping statement and work to change his perception of the religious community last week. clarify the Word of Wisdom, its health law, prohibits vaping and e-cigarettes.

Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, agreed with Vickers.

"The ideal is that there will be no tax revenue in the future because we would prevent everyone from engaging in such unhealthy practices," she said, adding that the proceeds from the tax should be allocated to effectively reduce the use of vaping in teens .

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, a major sponsor of the bill, said a number of vaping studies have found it to be unhealthy. He predicts that as more research is done, there may be more changes that limit vaping.

"We have an industry that goes out of business because they kill their customers with tobacco," he said. "The only way to stay in business is to be a new generation addict."

Ray added, along with others, that he would support addressing this issue in a special September session. Whether the bill is added to the September session will depend on Utah Gov. Gary Haybert.

Rep. Jennifer Daly-Provost, D-Salt Lake, said she was appalled that it took a long time to take action, but was happy that they were getting there, adding that she and other lawmakers were planning to introduce bills addressing vaping.

"This is just one of many tactics that must be addressed, and no one hangs his hat on it as the only solution," she says.

If passed, Utah will follow in the footsteps of other states that levy taxes on cigarettes. 92% of Vermont's e-cigarette tax went into effect in July.

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