Thursday evening, the Georgia House of Representatives voted in favor of creating a 7% tax on vaping products, Senate Bill 375, passing 123-33. It also raises the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, which is in line with federal law that went into effect Jan. 1.
“The imposition of the excise tax is meant to create parity,” said Rep. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee. “This is a nicotine delivery system. It’s only fair that there will be a comparable tax, similar to the Uber versus taxi issue, similar to the Airbnb versus hotels. So we’re just trying to achieve parity here. The tax attempted to mirror as closely as possible the cigarette excise tax that we already have, which is, as we all know, is low.”
Rich says it could bring in $11-$13 million dollars the first year. The cigarette tax increase previously approved by the Senate committee would have raised more than $400 million per year.
Republicans believed this bill will mirror the current tax on tobacco products. What this bill does not do is raise taxes on tobacco products. The bill went back to committee and that portion of the legislation was struck down.
Currently, Georgia’s cigarette tax rate is 37 cents for a 20-pack, one of the lowest rates in the United States. By comparison, the highest tax rate on cigarettes is currently the District of Columbia at $4.98 for a pack of 20. New York and Connecticut are tied for second at $4.35/20-pack. Missouri has the lowest tax rate on cigarettes at $0.17 for a 20-pack. The next lowest is Virginia at $0.30/20-pack.
The federal tax on cigarettes is $1.01 per 20-pack.
The legislation moves to the Senate for final passage Friday.