Really? NY Gov. Cuomo pushes for vape tax & flavor ban while approving of legal weed
For evidence of political hypocrisy in action, look no further than New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s newly proposed 2019 budget request to the state legislature. The plan opens the doors for a statewide ban on flavored vapor products and proposes a 10-cent vape tax on ever milliliter of e-liquid. In The same budget bill, the governor proposes new legislation that will legalize recreational marijuana while paving the way for minorities and farmers to obtain licensing more easily.
How can a politician warmly embrace weed while simultaneously denouncing electronic cigarettes? Unfortunately, Gov. Cuomo is not alone. Just this week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer held a press conference in which he lovingly welcomed with open arms the cannabis company Canopy Growth Corporation to the Empire State. For several years, Schumer has simultaneously and aggressively condemned vaping and e-cigs. In fact, he was instrumental in spearheading the “vaping on airplanes” fearmongering of 2016.
Overview of the Cuomo vape tax budgetary proposal
Cuomo isn’t stopping with a simple vape tax and flavor ban proposal. He goes farther. Other line items of his 2019 budget plan include the following.
- Raise the legal smoking and vaping age restrictions from 18 to 21.
- End the sales of vaping and tobacco products in pharmacies statewide.
- Prohibit the display and advertising of both tobacco and vapor products in non-age-restrictive vendor locations.
- Provide the New York Department of Health with the legal authority to ban flavored vapor products that specifically target children, such as sweet tart, bubble gum, and toffee flavors.
- Restrict vendor-provided discounts on tobacco and vapor products.
- Require licensing requirements for vendors selling vapor products. The licenses will likely require substantial fees being paid and mountains of paperwork being completed by the prospective e-cig vendor.
- Implement a 10-cent per mL vape tax on e-liquids sold separately and contained inside electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.
While Democrats like Cuomo and Schumer tend to be aggressively anti-vaping in their political rhetoric, the Republicans are either silent or perhaps even more antagonistic. Take for example the Trump Administration’s FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb who just this weekend threatened to ban the sales of all vapor products within the year. If teen vaping rates do not fall sharply and immediately in the next few months, it will be “game over” for the American vaping industry. Period.
However, not all Republicans side with Governor Cuomo. The ultra-conservative Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform calls Cuomo’s vape tax proposal “reckless.”
“This reckless tax hike proposal flies in the face of conclusive evidence that vapor products are effective smoking cessation tools that represent no greater than 5 percent of the harms to consumers as traditional combustible tobacco cigarettes. Balancing the state budget on the backs of smokers looking to quit flies in the face of decades of efforts aimed at curbing cigarette use to drive down public health costs.”
But why are politicians like Cuomo embracing legal pot while throwing vaping under the proverbial bus? As always, it’s all about the benjamins. During a budget speech last week, the New York governor stated.
“We have to do it in a way that creates an economic opportunity for poor communities and people who paid the price and not for rich corporations who are going to come in to make a buck.”
As noble as this statement may sound, Cuomo is not an idiot. He reads polls and already knows that legal marijuana is tremendously popular among his political base.
Meanwhile, neighboring states like Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine have already legalized recreational and medical cannabis. So, New York had better join the club quickly if the state doesn’t want to miss out on those millions of dollars in corporate taxes paid by the aforementioned “rich corporations” of the marijuana industry.
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