Politics & Campaigns

Massa Tax

Massachusetts moves forward with its plans to place a punitive tax on vaping and threatens to confiscate vapers’ cars

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The American state of Massachusetts taxes tobacco at 40%. To reduce the rates of smoking related harm it plans to tax vaping at 75%. Not only does the state want to tax vaping at almost twice the rate of smoking, but it I threatening to impound cars belonging to vapers if they are caught with “untaxed” products.

Vaping Youtuber Matt Culley described the proposals as “insane” and described the measures as “the worst, most regressive war on drugs vaping bill I have seen.”

Supporters of the bill claim it is designed to “protect young people” and welcomed the 126-31 approval vote. Nobody is able to describe how this helps reduce the annual 9300 death toll from smoking related diseases.

The bill states: "A person who knowingly purchases or possesses an electronic nicotine delivery system not manufactured, purchased or imported by a licensed electronic nicotine delivery system distributor or licensed electronic nicotine delivery system retailer shall…be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for the first offense and not more than $25,000 for a second or subsequent offense."

Jacob Sullum quotes Dan Alban, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice [link]: “This is completely insane and endangers the property rights of anyone in Massachusetts. Even if you don't have an 'untaxed electronic nicotine delivery system,' are you going to search every passenger in your vehicle? It is as though someone wanted to highlight the indefensibility of forfeiture via reductio ad absurdum. Does 'receptacle' include a house as well?"

Professor Michael Siegel says the bill “promotes Marlboro cigarettes”, and asks “Why are they doing this huge favour for Philip Morris?”

“If enacted,” he writes, “this ban is going to cause many ex-smokers to return to cigarette smoking. Ex-smokers who rely upon flavoured e-liquids to stay off cigarettes are going to return to smoking in large numbers. The majority of those who don't will turn to black market e-liquids, and we all now understand the dangers of an unregulated black market. In addition, this legislation removes a major off-ramp for adult cigarette smokers who are trying to quit smoking.”

“In the short time that the emergency ban on the sale of e-cigarettes has been in place in Massachusetts, the state has already experienced significantly higher rates of cigarette consumption than would have occurred without the ban -- this is based on actual sales data, not self-reports of smoking behaviour.”

“So the end result of this legislation will be a significant increase in the level of cigarette consumption in Massachusetts. That's a victory for Big Tobacco. But not all the companies will benefit equally. Most sub-brands of Newport, Kool, and Salem are menthol-flavoured, while most sub-brands of Marlboro are non-mentholated. What this legislation essentially does is ban the sale of Newport, Kool, and Salem while allowing the sale of Marlboro cigarettes to remain unfettered.”


  • “Pending Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes in Massachusetts Authorizes Forfeiture of Vapers' Cars”, Reason.com – [link]
  • “Massachusetts House Passes Bill that Promotes Marlboro Cigarettes; Why are They Doing This Huge Favor for Philip Morris?” by Michael Siegel – [link]


Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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