Indiana legislators consider taxing e-cigarettes for the first time

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Legislators appear unlikely to raise cigarette taxes. But they might tax nicotine in another way.

A House committee could vote next week on taxing e-cigarettes for the first time. Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown’s (R-Crawfordsville) bill would tax vaping based on the amount of e-liquid — that’s anywhere from eight to 24 cents for each cartridge, or 40 cents for a five-milliliter bottle.

By most estimates, an e-cigarette cartridge gives you about the same puffing time as a pack of cigarettes. But while Indiana has a cigarette tax of about a dollar a pack, there is no e-liquid tax. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says that’s something of a loophole. He says studies show a high number of teenage vapers, and suggest they’re likely to move on to smoking. He says many legislators are willing to support a rare new state tax as a result.

Bosma says he doesn’t see any similar enthusiasm for health and business leaders’ call to triple the cigarette tax as a means of reducing the number of smokers.

Legislative analysts estimate the tax would raise up to eight-million dollars a year.