In an effort to address the youth vaping crisis and generate new revenue for the state, a bill to place a 25 percent excise tax on e-cigarettes passed out of the House with a 75-17 vote Wednesday. E-cigarettes are currently the only tobacco product available in Kentucky that does not carry an excise tax.
House Bill 32, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller of Louisville, would also increase the excise tax on smokeless tobacco products from 15 to 25 percent.
Miller pointed to increased vaping use among high school and middle school students across the state as a reason for sponsoring the bill. Bullitt, Jefferson, and Fayette County Public Schools have all filed lawsuits against Juul Labs arguing that the vape company specifically targets teenagers.
The best way to address underage use, Miller said, is to make the price a deterrent. In addition to cutting down on use and seeking to improve health outcomes, Miller said the bill would generate almost $50 million for the state over the next two years.
House Bill 32 passed with changes made in committee and a floor amendment that would exempt products that have been proven to help people stop smoking. The legislation now moves to the state Senate for consideration in committee.