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State Capitol

Kentucky Vaping Tax Proposal Gaining Momentum

Stu Johnson

The House budget committee overwhelmingly voted Tuesday in favor of implementing a new wholesale tax on vaping products.  

Proponents like Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Director Ben Chandler believe this tax would help reduce teen use of vaping products.

“The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky believes that an excise tax of 25% of the wholesale price is close enough to the current price on cigarettes and would lead to a substantial enough price increase to create a considerable reduction in youth, youth vaping,” said Chandler.

Chandler said youth tobacco use is escalating for the first time in decades, and added it’s solely due to nicotine infused e-cigarettes.?

Bill Sponsor Jerry Miller noted the measure would generate about $50 million in new tax revenue over a two year period.  Although the bill doesn’t pertain to traditional cigarettes, it does raise the tax on smokeless products. 

The committee room included a large group of vape shop owners who expressed concern the legislation could close store doors.  Representing the vape shops, Lobbyist Jason Underwood said the new tax could drive some people back into smoking cigarettes. 

Frank Cahall owns three stores in Kentucky and nine in Ohio.  He said 11 years ago he was told he was terminal, weighing 500 pounds, a diabetic, with high blood pressure and breathing problems.   “It was an electronic cigarette, that’s the reason I’m here today.  That’s the reason I have eleven stores.  So, taxing it and driving people possibly back to cigarettes when stores close, is my biggest issue,” explained Cahall.

The bill now heads to the House floor.

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