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2/14/2019 Quezada bill would add 1-percent tax to hookah, vaping products for tobacco education programs
STATE HOUSE – Sen. Ana B. Quezada has introduced legislation to add a 1-percent tax on the sale of hookah and vaping products to raise money for municipalities to educate people about the dangers associated with those products.

“There’s a widespread misconception, especially among young people, that hookahs and vaping are somehow safe, partly due to the marketing of those products,” said Senator Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence). “These are still tobacco products, and are still putting addictive, harmful chemicals into people’s bodies. We need to stand up to the companies that sell them and make sure the public is better educated about their risks.”

The legislation (2019-S 0127) would impose an additional 1-percent tax on all hookah and vaping products, including hookah tobacco and vaping juices; all hookah or vaping devices, parts and supplies, e-cigarettes, vape pens and related equipment. The proposed tax would be in addition to all existing taxes, which include a tax paid by the seller for “other tobacco products” and the state sales tax.

The taxes would be collected by the state, but then sent back to the municipalities in which they were collected. Municipalities would be required to use the funding for educational programs to spread the word about the dangers of hookah use and vaping.

While overall smoking rates have declined in recent years, the use of electronic tobacco products is rising, both in Rhode Island and nationwide, particularly among youth. E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product by youth nationwide since 2014. In 2018, 20.1 percent of Rhode Island high schoolers reported current e-cigarette use, compared to 6.1 percent who reported currently smoking cigarettes.

“Rhode Islanders should be informed about the risks involved in electronic tobacco use and hookahs. We have to change our approach, because the tobacco industry has been very effective at moving toward these products as the public has recognized the dangers of cigarettes. These products are also dangerous, and that message needs to get out to the public,” said Senator Quezada.

The bill, which is cosponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence), Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) and Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923