Indiana vaping tax bill faces uncertain future this session

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Legislation that would have imposed a tax on the liquids used in e-cigarettes has an uncertain future in the Indiana General Assembly this year. 

In February, the Indiana House approved House Bill 1444, which at that time would have set a 4-cents-per-milliliter vaping liquid tax.

In the Indiana Senate, lawmakers increased the tax to 20% of the price to make it comparable to the total tax charged on a pack of cigarettes and to make it easier to calculate since it wouldn’t be based on the volume of vaping liquid sold.

But before the bill was voted on in the Senate, legislators approved an amendment that changed the language to suggest the creation of a summer study committee to examine the issue rather than imposing the tax this year.

The move was intended to keep the bill alive, but also to address concerns from the vaping industry about details on how the tax would be imposed—would it paid at the wholesale or retail level, for example, and at what rate?

But the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said the tax could return to the bill before final passage in the House and Senate. 

The tax, in part at least, is meant to discourage vaping, especially among teenagers. 

Charbonneau said before the Senate vote on the bill that teens who vape are four times as likely to start smoking cigarettes.

“We cannot do nothing,” Charbonneau said.

But during a conference committee meeting on Monday, the bill’s author, Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said he wouldn’t move the bill if the tax can’t pass the Senate. 

During the meeting, several retail and vaping industry officials urged lawmakers to keep the bill as is and send the issue to a study committee. 

The committee didn’t take any action, and the legislative session could end as early as Wednesday, making the fate of the bill uncertain.

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