OLYMPIA, WA — Washington state lawmakers have approved a 75% tax on electronic cigarettes, the Associated Press reports.
The House Finance Committee passed H.B. 2795 with a 7 to 6 vote. Originally, the bill called for a 95% tax on the distribution of e-cigarettes.
The vote was contentious, with Rep. Car Condotta criticizing the tax, maintaining e-cigarettes are an important tool in smoking-cessation efforts.
"This (tobacco substitute) industry has accomplished more in just a few years than they've done in 25 years in getting people off (tobacco)," he said.
Rep. Gerald Pollett questioned the safety of the vaping devices. "The industry itself refuses to do the long-term credible studies that are needed," he said.
However, Rep. J.R. Wilcox said any charges of safety concerns are simply a red herring. "This bill has nothing to do with safety or health," he said. "There's nothing in this bill that regulates. It's just a tax bill."
The bill would drop the taxation if the federal government approves e-cigarettes as a smoking-cessation device.