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E-cigarettes should be taxed like tobacco

To the editor:

Before Iowa’s General Assembly decides how to classify and tax e-cigarettes, we must first establish what they are not. E-cigarettes are not a healthy alternative to cigarettes. They have dangerous chemicals like other nicotine products and they are certainly not meant to help their users quit smoking.

That’s why I am grateful to State Rep. Ann Meyer for her leadership to pass HF 2523, a bill that would define e-cigarettes (defined as “vapor products” in state law) as tobacco products in Iowa and ensure they are taxed as such.

One in five high schoolers use e-cigarettes in Iowa — a rate three times higher than traditional “combustible” cigarettes. It is unacceptable that Iowa incentivizes a product marketed at teens that could negatively affect their brain development. E-cigarettes release chemicals that are toxic when inhaled, including particles that harm the lungs.

Despite these facts, e-cigarettes in Iowa are not subject to a tobacco tax. There are 30 states across the nation that have already implemented such a tax. These state governments are right to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products because they contain nicotine, just like cigarettes.

Achieving tax equity between e-cigarettes and cigarettes would benefit the health of Iowans, especially the youth. As a Fort Dodge area resident, I applaud Rep. Meyer’s efforts and urge the state legislature to finally tax e-cigarettes at the same rate as combustible cigarettes.

Marty Smith

Fort Dodge

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