WARNING: This product contains nicotine, nicotine is an addictive chemical.
Only for audlts, anyone below the age of 21 is prohibited from buying e-cigarette.
The Alaska state Senate has passed a 25% statewide tax on retail vape pen product. The proposer is “reasonably confident” that Governor Mike Dunleavy will not veto it, as he did a similar bill last fall.
The Senate Bill 89 is sponsored by Senate President Gary Stevens, a Republican from Kodiak. Finally, this retail vape pen bill gets passed by a 14-6 vote on Tuesday afternoon. Therefore, now it will goes to the House of Representatives. The House is also trying to pass a number of bills before adjournment scheduled for Wednesday.
Although the time constraints, Stevens still has confidence that his bill will be among those passed bill in time.
In addition to the 25% tax, the bill would also bring Alaska law in line with the federal government’s 2019 law. It will raise the minimum legal age to buy, sell or distribute retail vape pen product to 21. It is two years higher than Alaska’s current legal age of 19.
And anyone found in possession of a nicotine-containing retail vape pen product under the age of 21 would be subject to a fine of up to $150. That’s a significant reduction from the $500 fine that was originally proposed when the law was first introduced. The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee reduced it in April.
According to Jeff Rogers, finance director for the City and Borough of Juneau, the 25% statewide tax would be added to existing local nicotine taxes in Alaska. Such as those in Juneau, where tobacco and retail vape pen products are already subject to a 45% tax, or $3 per pack, on the wholesale price.
Sen. Jesse Kiehl, a Juneau Democrat who carried the bill, spoke in favor of it during a floor speech on Tuesday morning. He stats that it is intended to protect public health and safety rather than make money.
“This is about reducing the rapidly growing addiction of young people, especially our high schoolers, to nicotine,” he said. “We need to take these steps.”
Sen. Shelley Hughes, a Palmer Republican, agreed that steps must be made to address juvenile nicotine addiction. However, she also claimed that the 25% tax and the reduction in the fine to $125 was essentially a “slap on the wrist” and did not go far enough. In addition, She said that she didn’t want to approve any taxes until the Senate had passed the budget plan’s constituent parts. Therefore, she abstained on the bill.
“I don’t think this is effective, the $500 I think would speak louder to the high school students than a dollar or two tax on a device with nicotine.” she said. “I don’t think we’re hitting the target with this and for that reason, I’m going to be a no.”
Just go down the road from the capitol, you can find a store named Alaska Pipeline in the downtown. It markets itself as having “Juneau’s largest supply of vapes and vape supplies.”.
A store clerk named Travis Kemp-Davis said he doesn’t believe the increased tax will deter young people from purchasing vape pen products. Since he started using nicotine products as a teenager. He claimed, it’s “easy to get addicted to, but hard to quit so we just keep smoking.” Moreover, He claimed that he still smokes despite the fact that taxes and the cost of nicotine have both increased dramatically.
“If you’re addicted to something, and you want it, you will get it. Everyone will find a way no matter how much it costs.” He said.
Kemp-Davis believes that prevention is the greatest method to keep kids away from nicotine retail vape pen products. However, he did not believe that taxing the products would make a difference.