In November, Californians will vote on whether to impose taxes on electronic cigarettes. After more than ten years of efforts to raise cigarette taxes, anti-smoking activists continue to find ways to increase taxes, not only on regular cigarettes but also on e-cigarettes, something that is completely new in the Golden State.

Proposition 56 will be included on the ballot to be celebrated on November 8 in California. If it passes, it will make California the fifth state in the U.S. to tax e-cigarettes after Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, and North Carolina. Additionally, anti-smoking advocates continue to lobby to ban friendly cartoons labels on e-cigarettes. They argue this could be a way to make them more appealing to young audiences.

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Proposition 56

E-cigarettes are handheld electronic devices that vaporize a flavored liquid, which is inhaled by users. Often, the use of these devices is referred to as vaping. The e-liquid it delivers is commonly made of nicotine propylene, glycerin and added flavors.

They are considered to be less risky than regular tobacco cigarettes. However, the long-term health risks derived from using e-cigarettes are highly uncertain. A lot of people use them as a way for quitting smoking. Though people, who don’t usually smoke can become addicted to nicotine if they continue to use these e-liquids that contain the substance.

In California, the tobacco excise tax is of $0.87 per pack of cigarettes, which is notably lower than the average tax on tobacco in the United States, which is $.165 per pack. 34 states and the D.C have higher taxes on tobacco than California. Now, California is deciding if it accepts the Proposition 56 in a ballot where California will also vote on a constitutional amendment and the state statute.

What do anti-smoking activists want?

A “yes” vote to the California Tobacco Tax Increase would be in favor of increasing $2 in tobacco taxes resulting in a total $2.87 per pack of cigarettes. This measure would include tobacco products and the previously untaxed e-cigarettes.

Revenue from this industry has gone to the General Fund, tobacco prevention initiatives, health care services for poor people, breast cancer research, and environmental protection. This two extra dollars would increase funds for such programs. Also, they will be allocated to physician training, prevention, and treatment of dental diseases, research into cancer, heart and lung diseases and school programs focusing on tobacco-use prevention.

This decision could change the perception of e-cigarettes in other states, given the importance of California, the most populous state in the country. Approving the Proposition 56 could be the starting point of an enormous debate on how the vaping industry affects public health and state’s incomes.

Nobody can be sure about what is going to happen in November, given the fact that Californians have defeated measures to impose more taxes on the tobacco industry in 2006 and 2012’s voting processes.

Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer has been a great support to the anti-smoking cause. He alongside medical groups and educators have raised about 20 million dollars to promote the Proposition 56.

“If you don’t use tobacco, you don’t pay. Smokers pay their fair share of the $3 billion in healthcare costs all taxpayers are paying now,” he added.

Source: Times Herald Business