Utah House passes bill to add an 86-percent tax on e-cigarettes

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) E Liquid for sale at Peak Vapor in Taylorsville, Gov. Herbert has proposed taxing e-cigarettes the same as other tobacco products. Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Utah House on Monday passed a bill that would impose an 86-percent tax on vaping products after its sponsor gave an emotional floor speech about losing several family members to tobacco use.

Rep. Paul Ray said the tax will deter youth vaping while also generating more than $23 million in revenue, money that would be distributed to local health departments and provider increases for Medicaid expansion.

Ray, who's been trying for years to slap the tax on e-cigarettes, said the state is seeing an alarming increase in youth vaping, which can act as a gateway to cigarette addiction.

"We're seeing vapes used from the 5th grade on up, and it's at epidemic proportions," he said.

Just that morning, he said, he'd learned that his sister, who'd smoked for much of her life, was suffering from Stage 4 cancer.

"I lost my mom to this. I lost my dad to this," Ray, R-Clearfield, said.

The bill, HB252, passed the House by a 54-20 vote and heads to the Senate.