Last Updated on January 27, 2018 by

Sin Taxes and Electronic Cigarettes

The new 7% “sin tax” being considered for Electronic Cigarettes by the City of Omaha in Nebraska, is causing quite a ruckus in the vaping community. CASAA (The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association) has even placed a “Call To Action” alert and has responded via letter to the City Council pointing out the errors in their drafted legislation. These points brought forth by CASAA, while being perfectly valid and absolutely true, will (I believe) have no effect on whether or not the tax hike will go through or that eCigarettes will be taken out of the tax bill. It’s just not going to happen.

Here’s why

Sin Taxes are to politicians as sugar is to ants, awfully tempting and always delicious. With regards to the City of Omaha, there is just too much sugar to grab for these council members to pass up. Money is the addiction of politicians, they are never satisfied with what they have, and sin taxes are the easiest way to bring in more money because “decent” people have no sins and therefore no more taxes to pay. Well, at least, that’s what people say.

Sin Tax

Sin Taxes are taxes on products people enjoy, but those products are usually guilty of making people do foolish things. Alcohol and tobacco make up most of the sin tax targets, and in the future you can expect to see more taxes placed on soft drinks, fast food, and anything else the government has deemed “not good for you”. (The whole ‘nanny-state mentality  that America has embraced) And if it’s not good for you, well, “Damnit, this is America, and if you want to smoke yourself to death or drink yourself into a stupor then go right ahead, but in the meantime, while you’re still alive, we’re going to make you pay more for it!


Someone has to pay those taxes, so why not make the citizens that indulge in these unsafe practices pay more? They’re stupid anyway, and no matter how much tax we place on these products they will continue to pay them. Sure, they may yell about it, threaten to quit, but very few do. Cancer kills smokers, not tax hikes.”

So, year after year more and more sin taxes are placed on more and more products that are deemed unsafe or “unseemly”. It’s the coward’s way of grabbing more money from the citizenry because those that wind up paying more aren’t going to admit they will be affected. Nearly everyone drinks to some degree but no one likes to admit they drink enough that paying more for it is going to be a problem.

Are Electronic Cigarettes Sin-Taxable Products?

Well, that depends. According to the FDA Electronic Cigarettes are “tobacco products” and therefore classified as qualifying for every new tax and regulation placed on cigarettes. If you are scratching your head that some city in America is about to throw a sin tax on eCigarettes then you haven’t been paying attention.

The reality of the situation is vastly different then what the FDA has decided to label Electronic Cigarettes. They are not tobacco products. But, because most eCigarettes are filled with eLiquid and an ingredient of eLiquid is nicotine derived from tobacco leaves, it’s only logical to label eCigs as a tobacco product. Right?

Why are so many Vapers and the vendors that cater to Electronic Cigarettes users so readily accepting of the FDA classification that Electronic Cigarettes are tobacco products? Even CASAA doesn’t argue the point, calling eCigarettes a vastly less harmful tobacco product. I don’t get this kind of thinking and it drives me crazy when the words are bandied about so readily.

From where I’m standing the only thing that analog (tobacco) cigarettes and electronic cigarettes have in common IS the nicotine derived from tobacco plants (although nicotine can be derived from red peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant, albeit at a much greater cost), and the past 40-50 years of anti-smoking propaganda has been all about lung cancer and heart disease, in which nicotine plays NO part. So where’s the disconnect?


It’s time for everyone that has a stake in all this, from politicians looking for money, to tobacco companies looking to survive, to nicotine manufacturers, to cigarettes resellers, to Electronic Cigarettes vendors, and to the general public; to take a step back and figure this whole thing out.

Here are just a few questions that I think should be considered by all those concerned.

  1. What’s the real problem with tobacco cigarettes, cigars, and pipes?
  2. How big a part does nicotine play into all the answers to questions #1?
  3. What exactly do anti-smokers have against smoking?
  4. What exactly do anti-smokers have against eCigarettes?

And here’s a question from me to EVERYONE

How in the world can you believe that Electronic Cigarettes could possibly be a GATEWAY to tobacco cigarettes for minors?”

If we, as concerned citizens, can answer those questions above then maybe, just maybe, we can figure out where eCigarettes fit into this whole ‘sin tax, banning, protesting, and otherwise general bullshit’ that are being thrown at eCigarettes. Because, let’s face it, it is getting more stupid by the day.

Of course Electronic Cigarettes are NOT tobacco products. Of course Electronic Cigarettes are 99.99% SAFER than tobacco. Of course Electronic Cigarettes should NOT be classified as a tobacco product. Of course the hysteria about Electronic Cigarettes are unfounded. And, lest we forget; Of course eCigarettes should NOT have sin taxes levied against them.

Of course, none of what I said matters. The fact remains that the FDA says otherwise, non-smokers believe, without a shadow of doubt, that eCigarettes are just another form of smoking, and that sin taxes are always going to go after eCigarettes because vaping looks like smoking, and smoking is bad.

This City of Omaha thing is just the beginning.

When (not if) the City of Omaha passes this new 7% tax hike on cigarettes, and by fiat on Electronic Cigarettes, others will follow suit. Fast. Since eCigarettes are so cheap, relative to the cost of a pack of cigarettes, new sin taxes will soon take aim at eCigarettes exclusively. In a matter of 5 years (or less) the price of eCigarettes will be on par with tobacco cigarettes…that makes about as much sense as a politician acting on behalf of his or her constituents, but its likely to be the reality.

Where the fight should be

I’m not saying that CASAA shouldn’t have sent the letter to the City Council in Omaha Nebraska. Nothing wrong with that, just don’t expect it to do any good. The real fight is with the FDA and the anti-smoking crowd. And there is only one way to fight them; with science.

CASAA and all other non-profits, along with the formation of a ‘eCig Vendors Association’, should funnel money into real scientific testing to find out, once and for all, what we already know, that eCigarettes are, if harmful at all, 99.99% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. If eCigarettes do turn out to be harmful, if they can cause cancer or heart disease, or emphysema, or any of the other diseases that tobacco causes (as unlikely as that seems to be), well hell, I want to know anyway. Don’t you?

Last Words

Electronic Cigarettes are now on the map. Just as I said it would be, eCigarettes have gone mainstream. It’s gotten the attention of both the good and the bad elements of society. There are now enough vapers that it matters to the worst people imaginable; politicians and zealots (often the same people). You haven’t seen anything yet.

John Manzione

For more information on CASAA, visit their website.

Clarification: Spinfuel eMagazine takes the position that Electronic Cigarettes are NOT tobacco products. Having an organization like CASAA involved in the fight for the rights of Vapers is fine, but let’s face it; CASAA is an organization that takes up the fight for smokeless tobacco products as well as eCigarettes. Spinfuel’s position on tobacco is such that the only viable alternative to tobacco use is quitting tobacco, period. Nicotine is not tobacco, vaping is not smoking, and eCigarettes are a misnomer for vaping.