Louisiana Should Reject New Vape Taxes

May 8, 2023

The Honorable Stuart J. Bishop, Chairman
The Honorable Gerald “Beau” Beaullieu, IV, Vice Chairman
Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee

Dear Members of the Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee,

On behalf of National Taxpayers Union, the nation’s oldest taxpayer advocacy organization, I write to share our strong opposition to HB 635 as well as House Committee Amendment No. 2 to HB 635. I write to you also as a former nurse practitioner and Wisconsin state senator who chaired the Senate Health Committee. 

Both proposed policies would significantly raise the cost of vaping and remove critical incentives for consumers to choose innovative and less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes. Additionally, these proposals can create an illicit market for these products and increase the likelihood that individuals will return to smoking traditional cigarettes.

Vaping products have been proven to be innovative solutions for smokers transitioning toward significantly less harmful alternatives. As you probably know, vapor products do not contain tobacco. They contain nicotine without the harmful chemicals found in traditional tobacco products intended for smoking. Whether you increase the tax rate from $0.05/ml to $0.30/ml as proposed in the amendment or move to a rate of 15% of the price of a retail product as in the original bill, the end result would be to limit the accessibility and affordability of alternative, less harmful nicotine products to lower and middle-income residents in your state.

Promoting healthy, smoke-free lives and preventing disease is an admirable goal. However, HB 635 will sadly have the opposite effect as intended. Increasing the taxes on smoke-free alternatives to combustible cigarettes eliminates an economic incentive for consumers to choose a less harmful option. 

These proposals would also open the door to an illicit market, forcing individuals to purchase vaping products from questionable sources, thus exposing them to greater risks. The recent rise of a serious pulmonary disease known as EVALI has been tied to the use of black market products. 

Finally, this bill will affect small business owners in your state who may see declining sales revenue as consumers look elsewhere to purchase vaping products. Given your neighboring states of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas do not tax vaping products, consumers struggling with addiction will likely seek products that skirt the state’s taxing and regulatory authority. 

There are lessons to learn from other states that have enacted legislation banning the use of certain tobacco products. Massachusetts passed a flavored tobacco ban, and according to a study conducted by the Tax Foundation, the ban did not result in a reduction of flavored tobacco products. It merely changed where consumers bought vaping products. Although flavored tobacco products were technically banned, people found what they wanted by crossing state lines or using the illicit market. Increasing the tax on these products will likely meet a similar fate in your state.

In summary, this bill does a disservice to public health, will inflict harm on small businesses, could potentially create a black market for unregulated use and distribution, and will require consumers to pay more for safer alternatives. National Taxpayers Union strongly believes HB 635 and its amendment will hurt Louisianans as they try to promote healthy lives as they struggle with smoking addiction. 

We urge you to reject government overreach and tax increases.


Leah Vukmir
Senior Vice President of State Affairs
National Taxpayers Union