September 17, 2019

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Vermont Imposes 92% E-Cigarette Tax to Control Teen Vaping

On the heels of San Francisco announcing a full ban on sales of e-cigarettes, the State of Vermont announced its own plan for e-cigarette control — a 92% tax. The bill, supported by Gov. Phil Scott, has passed the house and now moves on to the Senate for approval. The state predicts the increased price will decrease purchases by underage users.

The legislative measure was prompted by the rise of e-cigarette use in teens, the high nicotine content in the vaping liquids, and the addictive properties of nicotine. Vermont is also exploring the ban of all internet sales of e-cigarettes as well as raising the age limit for purchase to 21.

Juul, which controls over 70% of the e-cigarette market, is known for having high nicotine levels in its liquid pods. The brand, which entered the market in 2015, is particularly popular among teens because the device resembles a flash drive and can easily be concealed. Juul pods are sold in 3% and 5% levels of nicotine and come in various fruit and candy flavors, which is considered appealing to underage users.

Juul’s unique nicotine delivery system is also reported to deliver nicotine into the bloodstream in greater concentration than other devices and faster than traditional cigarettes. A recent Stanford study declared we are in the midst of “a nicotine arms race,” as other e-cigarette manufacturers raise their nicotine levels in attempt to compete with Juul. The formula is simple: the higher the nicotine, the higher the number of nicotine addicts, the higher the number of buyers. It’s the same historic formula used by big tobacco companies.

Juul Pod Flavors

Virginia Tobacco 5%, 3% Nicotine Strengths
Mint 5%, 3% Nicotine Strengths
Classic Tobacco 5% Nicotine Strength
Mango 5% Nicotine Strength
Cucumber 5% Nicotine Strength
Creme 5% Nicotine Strength
Menthol 5% Nicotine Strength
Fruit 5% Nicotine Strength

Unfortunately, the FDA, which gained regulatory control over e-cigarettes in 2016, has done little to protect consumers from these products. Instead, use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed, reversing the long-term decline in teenage tobacco and nicotine use.

Juul is cited to play a primary role in the disturbing rise due to its design, high nicotine content, and advertising campaigns that appear to target minors. Juul is also the subject of a class action suit in the San Francisco District Court. The suit alleges Juul purposely designed a highly addictive product, concealed the addictive nature of the product, and lured teen users with advertising similar to the type banned for the tobacco industry.

Three years into regulatory oversight, the FDA continues a mostly hands-off approach to regulation, prompting the states to impose their own rules to protect youth and adult consumers alike. Vermont and nine other states (including D.C.) have imposed additional taxes on the products, and the city of San Francisco, where Juul resides, has entirely banned e-cigarette sales within its city.

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About this Author

Domenic B. Sanginiti, Jr, Stark Law, Personal Injury Lawyer, Civil Litigation Attorney
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Domenic B. Sanginiti, Jr. is an associate and member of the Accident & Personal Injury Group. He concentrates his practice in personal injuries arising from automobile, truck and motorcycle accidents, in addition to personal injuries claims resulting from slip and fall accidents and various other civil litigation matters.

Prior to joining Stark & Stark, Mr. Sanginiti, Jr. practiced personal injury for two South-Jersey law firms, where he defended casinos against personal injury claims, as well as defending health insurance carries against claims for benefits under ERISA.  He...

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