A touch on a vape pen and a packet of chewing tobacco both deliver a dose of nicotine, but only one of these products provides a solution for Utah's tax collectors.
That's because the 86 percent tax applies to products like chewing pipe tobacco does not apply to electronic cigarettes, devices that are becoming increasingly popular among Utah's youth. According to Governor Gary Herbert, it is time for consumers to go to pieces.
Herbert's budget proposal, released earlier this month, recommends taxing electronic cigarettes, such as traditional tobacco products, partly out of concern for the increasing doping of adolescents, which is increasing nationwide.
"The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) by adolescents has grown alarmingly," says the budget documents of the governor. "The governor recommends treating electronic cigarette fluids, equipment and supplies like traditional tobacco products under the tax laws of Utah."
Surveys show that steam rates among Utah students ̵
Surgeon General Jerome Adams recently said that federal officials should take "aggressive steps". The Associated Press reported curbing the use of e-cigarettes in childhood, and recent surveys show that there is a boom in high-school steam generation.
US Congressman Paul Ray has struggled unsuccessfully for years to expand the state's tobacco tax on e-cigarettes, planning to re-introduce its legislation in the 2019 meeting, which begins in January. Ray believes his move has a better chance for the governor's transition.
Ray, R-Clearfield, hopes that rising taxes on steam products will help curb the spread of e-cigarettes.
"My daughter went to the bathroom in high school yesterday, and there are a lot of kids steaming," he said recently. "It's on an epidemic level."
Vape companies market young people by offering e-cigarette liquid aromas such as root beer and bubblegum, he argues.
Not so, says Austin Healy, co-owner of Peak Steam in Taylorsville. There are many adults with sweet teeth.
"Does Paul Ray enjoy a limo here and there? Does he enjoy a root beer?
It's illegal for anyone under the age of 18, and Healy said his store is making every effort to ensure it is not sold to minors.
Concern that teenagers have access These products are not intended for them, "said Healy, a board member of the Utah Smoke Free Association, a group dedicated to the dumping industry." We're not trying to sell this stuff to children or kids or We really only want to help those people who are looking for another alternative [to smoking]. "
Healy argues that the products he sells should not be subject to state tobacco taxation (they are already subject to state sales tax)) and Cigarette alternatives such as Nicorette chewing gum are more similar.
He said extending the tobacco tax on e-cigarette products would create a "huge job loss" in the Dam industry.
There are 263 vape shops in Utah, with the exception of convenience stores or grocery stores where electronic cigarettes are on the shelves, according to the Utah Tax Agency.
The topic of tobacco consumption is personal to Ray, who was born with a heart defect and his mother smokes two packs of cigarettes a day while pregnant with him. He has undergone four open heart operations to address the innate problem, he said.
Now he is worried that steaming will captivate a whole new generation of nicotine.
Ray said his bill would bring the revenue from the e-cigarette taxes partially to local health departments, which carry out operations to catch vape deals that sell to minors. State law analysts have noted that Ray's bill at the start of the year generated around $ 2 million for local health officials and pumped another $ 5 million into the state's general fund.