For the editor:
Before the Iowa General Assembly decides how to classify and tax e-cigarettes, we must first establish what they are not. Electronic cigarettes are not a healthy alternative to cigarettes. They contain dangerous chemicals like other nicotine products and they are certainly not intended to help their users quit smoking.
That’s why I’m grateful to State Representative Ann Meyer for her leadership in passing HF 2523, a bill that would define e-cigarettes (defined as “steam products” in state law) as tobacco products in Iowa and ensure that they are taxed as such.
One in five high school students use e-cigarettes in Iowa — a rate three times higher than traditional “combustible” cigarettes. It is unacceptable for Iowa to promote a product marketed to teenagers that could negatively affect their brain development. Electronic cigarettes release chemicals that are toxic when inhaled, including particles that are harmful to the lungs.
Despite these facts, e-cigarettes in Iowa are not subject to tobacco tax. There are 30 states across the country that have already implemented such a tax. These state governments are correct in classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products because they contain nicotine, just like cigarettes.
Achieving tax fairness between e-cigarettes and cigarettes would benefit the health of Iowans, especially young people. As a resident of the Fort Dodge area, I applaud Rep. Meyer’s efforts and urge the state legislature to finally tax e-cigarettes at the same rate as fuel-powered cigarettes.