Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed SB 45, a bill that would have raised the minimum age to purchase e-cigarettes and other tobacco products in the state from 19-years-old to 21-years-old. The move would have brought the state in line with federal minimum age requirements.
The governor vetoes the bill because it also included the implementation of a tax on e-cigarettes and other vaping products.
The bill sought to create parity in the excise tax rate on electronic smoking products, which are currently not subject to state-level taxes as they are not considered either cigarettes or other tobacco products (OTP).
The bill would have subjected electronic smoking products to a tax rate of 35 percent of the wholesale price, which would still be less than the state’s rate of 75 percent of the wholesale price on other tobacco products.
“Governor Dunleavy’s decision to veto this bill is a huge relief to Alaskans who rely on vaping products to stay away from deadly combustible cigarettes. Rejecting the tax hike will also make it easier for those who currently smoke to achieve cessation using vapor products, said Tim Andrews, director of Consumer Issues for Americans for Tax Reform. “Governor Dunleavy’s veto was necessary and highly appropriate. As a proud signer of the ATR Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Governor Dunleavy has made a commitment to his constituents to oppose all tax increases. This veto is proof of his dedication to the taxpayers of Alaska and we applaud this pro-science, pro-taxpayer decision.”
Dunleavy did not say whether or not he supported the age increase, but noted that it is not possible to separate out components of a bill once it has been passed by the legislature.
“There were many conversations about what an appropriate level to tax would be, but ultimately a tax increase on the people of Alaska is not something I can support,” Dunleavy wrote in his veto letter to Senate President Peter Micciche.
Since the governor vetoed the bill after the adjournment of the legislature’s second regular session, the veto will not be addressed unless a special session is called before the next legislative session convenes, according to Halfwheel.