A coalition of health groups and experts have started a petition drive that if successful would put an initiative on the ballot in the fall that would hike the cigarette tax by $2 per pack. This would include e-cigarettes.
The health experts say that the measure would cut down on smoking and would bring in money to offer more tobacco treatment services for Medi-Cal patients. It also would help to support campaigns to fight smoking and would increase medical research.
One of the people who has contributed money to the initiative is Tom Steyer, a billionaire and a possible candidate for California governor in 2018.
The proposal to increase taxes also would affect electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes. The argument to include e-cigs in the tax hike is that their use has tripled among teenagers since 2013. Some health experts have done anti-tobacco campaigns at high schools and they often hear students discussing the use of e-cigarettes and vaping in general.
Those health experts and groups maintain that products that taste like candy, which some flavors of e-cigarette juice do, put teenagers at risk of developing an addiction to nicotine.
People in favor of e-cigarettes argue that they are much safer to smoke than cigarettes, and they often can help to wean people off tobacco, which is far, far more deadly and dangerous.
One vaping group opposed to the new tax is the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Assn, which is a major representative of the e-cigarette industry.
The president of the group stated that the vapor debate should be focused on the several million adult smokers in CA who have switched to e-cigarettes. They added that trying to tax vaping products like tobacco is flawed, and could cause people to go from e-cigs back to cigarettes. They say to buy e-cigarettes is much safer than buying tobacco and should actually be encouraged.
Government authorities are frequently trying to bring the e-cig business to heel with various e-cigarette rules and regulations. FDA is expected to release its final e-cig rules this year, which could greatly limit their sale.