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Posted by Scott McKirahan on July 14, 2014
Currently, the state of Minnesota is the only state that has enacted a tax on e-cigarettes. Specifically, it taxes e-cigarettes, cartridges and e-liquid that contain nicotine at a whopping 95% of the wholesale price. According to a USA Today article, "at least 30 [other states] are considering e-cigarette taxes of some kind next year."
Now, I'm not sure where the USA Today is getting its information. Perhaps they have an inside track with politicians that have informed them of e-cig tax plans that have never been announced to the public. The CASAA has only issued calls to action in 19 states that have proposed e-cigarette taxes. Most of those proposals have been thwarted due to the CASAA and concerned vapers' intervention. Still, it would be naive to assume that once a bill is rejected, it will never see the light of day again. If at first you don't succeed ...
So, rather than take the USA Today's word for it (they don't mention what those 30 states are), I'll go with the 19 states where the CASAAA has actually intervened. I have colored the state names in accordance with the way they voted in the last presidential election:
As you can see, 15 of the 19 states that have proposed e-cigarette taxes are blue states. Of the four red ones, two of them (North and South Carolina) grow a ton of tobacco, so we know there are jobs at risk and plenty of politics going on there. Utah is considered a "Mormon" state and vaping is probably one of countless vices frowned upon there. There's no explaining Oklahoma's stance on ecigs. Come to think of it, there's no explaining Oklahoma, period!
Perhaps it has nothing at all to do with whether a state is red or blue, though. Maybe it has more to do with the debt that each state faces.
I know that you may find it hard to believe, but politicians have a funny way of skewing numbers to make it seem like their states are doing far better than they really are. There are actually governors claiming that they have a budget surplus right now and legislators trying to figure out how to spend those "surpluses" even though their state is in serious debt. While it is true that about ten states took in more money than they spent last year, it in no way means that they are out of the hole. The plain and simple truth is that every single state and the District of Columbia is in debt.
Of course, some states are more in debt than others and even states with very high debt are not necessarily in as dire a situation as other states with much smaller debts. That's because they may also have much larger populations to spread that debt over.
The state of Florida, for instance, has the 4th largest debt in the country but they also have a very large population. When you divide that debt amongst the population, they actually come out in the lower half of states, ranking 27th for debt per capita.
Therefore, the amount of shortfall per citizen (per capita debt burden) is really a better number to use to determine how dire a state's debt problem is. Here is a ranking of the states on per capita debt burden basis (statistics obtained from usgovernmentspending.com). I'll highlight if they are red or blue states, too:
|Rank||State||Debt||Per Capita Debt Burden|
|*1||New York||$361.7 Billion||$18,360|
|2||Washington D.C.||$12.8 Billion||$18,286|
|*6||New Jersey||$110.7 Billion||$12,438|
|*11||Rhode Island||$11.6 Billion||$10,545|
|21||New Hampshire||$12 Billion||$9,231|
|23||South Carolina||$42.6 Billion||$8,875|
|33||North Dakota||$5.2 Billion||$7,429|
|*34||New Mexico||$15.4 Billion||$7,333|
|36||South Dakota||$6.4 Billion||$7,111|
|44||West Virginia||$12.1 Billion||$6,368|
|*45||North Carolina||$54.4 Billion||$5,495|
* States with an asterisk are the ones who have proposed e-cigarette taxes.
Wow, that's a whole lot of blue at the top and a ton of red at the bottom! And, sorry folks, that's just the debt you owe your state. It doesn't include the $55,240 owed per United States citizen ($151,343 per taxpayer) that you're in the red to the fed for!
If nothing else, it sure seems to show what color states have a propensity for driving up debt. On the other hand, it does nothing to correlate e-cigarette taxes with actual need for paying off debt.
You can draw your own conclusions, but it sure would seem that the blue states simply look for any excuse to tax something. Knowing that smokers are now seen by the public at large as pariahs, blue state politicians figure there are no political consequences for taxing anyone associated with smoking - even if they are people who have found a much healthier alternative!
BeatNic Blog Quote of the Day: "One difficulty in making the Senate work the way it was intended is that America's electorate is increasingly divided into red and blue states, with lawmakers representing just one color or the other." - Olympia Snowe
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