Counterpoint: This sin tax is not about protecting kids

SHARE Counterpoint: This sin tax is not about protecting kids

When you’ve got nothing else, you’ve got to make it about the children.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed tax on vapor products of $1.25 per e-cigarette device, plus 25 cents per milliliter of e-liquid would raise the price of a 30-milliliter bottle by $8.75. Currently, a 30-milliliter bottle costs between $12 and $22, plus local and state sales taxes.

The additional revenue generated is estimated to be a mere $1 million, barely a drop in the bucket. Just last week, Ald. Proco Joe Moreno said in media reports that he sees it as a way to try to fight the increasing use of the products among teens.


This is not about protecting the children. Electronic cigarette sales are illegal to persons under 18 in the State of Illinois, so children will not be paying this tax. But do not doubt that there will be pain.

It is the adults who have found a less harmful alternative to smoking that will be burdened. It is the smokers who might be contemplating switching to e-cigs who may look at this sin tax and be inclined to think that electronic cigarettes pose similar harm to combustible cigarettes. It is the small businesses selling e-liquid who will see a drop in business as customers turn to the suburbs to fill their e-liquid needs.

Gregory Conley, president of American Vaping Association, sums it up well in arguing that real public health advocates should see through this tactic.

“Every year, only around 3 percent of smokers who try to quit will succeed,” he says. “We need new and innovative options for the other 97 percent, not prohibitive taxes that encourage smokers to keep smoking.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona notes in the New York Post that youth smoking rates continue to drop at unprecedented rates, undermining the argument that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking.

Any policymaker that believes this sin tax is about protecting the children has simply not done his or her homework. It would serve to do nothing more than kill small business and keep smokers smoking. We urge the Chicago City Council to reject this vapor tax and support our efforts to provide real alternatives for smokers.

Victoria Vasconcellos is president of the Illinois Chapter of SFATA (Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association).

Follow the Editorial Board on Twitter: Follow @csteditorials

Tweets by @CSTeditorials

Send letters to:

The Latest
Doctors at Advocate Medical Group say the organization has fallen short in responding to ongoing humanitarian crises in Gaza, especially compared to donated aid and calls for peace after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
As the 2024 presidential election approaches, officials, advocates and experts have expressed concern over misinformation and disinformation about candidates and elections in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois.
One of only 13 pitchers to make 250 starts with the Cubs, Hendricks has made 253 and — after a loss Friday that dropped him to 0-4 with a 10.57 ERA — it’s fair for anyone to be asking if there should be a 254th.
Around 5 p.m. Friday, a large group of protesters had surrounded the Institute of Politics. Shortly after that, a group of police officers, equipped with riot shields, burst into the building and scuffled with protesters.
My travels to every continent but Australia were not driven totally by my efforts to see the incredible light show. But for years, I had quietly chased the northern lights, It’s at the top of my bucket list — still.