Nicotine Tax Inches Closer as U.S. House Passes Legislation

    Critics call the proposal ‘a public health disaster.’

    The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the portion of the Build Back Better Act that includes a controversial nicotine tax. The legislation will now head for the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle.

    In a 220 to 213 vote, the House voted mostly along party lines for the legislation that has often been compared to the New Deal. Biden signed the second piece of his domestic agenda, a $1.2 trillion package focused on infrastructure improvements, into law earlier this week.

    To help fund the plans, the legislation calls for a tax of $50.33 per 1,810 mg of nicotine for “any nicotine product that has been extracted, concentrated or synthesized.”

    Critics warned that raising taxes on smoking alternatives while leaving taxes the same on traditional cigarettes risks driving vapers back to smoking.

    “The science is crystal clear: This bill is a public health disaster,” said Tim Andrews, director of consumer issues at Americans for Tax Reform. “The tax hikes on people trying to quit smoking contained in H.R. 5376 would lead to more people, millions more Americans smoking—and dying as a result.”

    Andrews’ concerns were echoed by Michael Pesko, an associate professor in the Department of Economics at Georgia State University.

    “Given extensive peer-reviewed evidence indicating that these products are substitutes, an unintended but inevitable effect of increasing taxes on e-cigarettes is to increase cigarette use,” he said. “A wide array of research suggests that this boost in cigarette use as a result of large e-cigarette tax increases would significantly increase overall tobacco-related death and disease.”