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House lawmakers reject e-cigarette and tobacco products tax

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would have taxed tobacco products that aren’t yet sold in Utah failed 29-44 in the House Monday.

HB372, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, was changed last week to delete a controversial tax on e-cigarettes. But lawmakers raised additional concerns about the possibility taxes would be collected on dissolvable nicotine products that could be mistaken for candy.

“It’s hard to tell which one is candy and which is tobacco,” Ray said. “We need to get those behind the counter.”

The bill would have required that e-cigarettes, candy-like dissolvable tobacco and other nicotine products be defined and taxed as tobacco.

HB372 would also prohibit people under age 19 from entering tobacco shops, and require e-cigarettes and candy-like nicotine products to be sold in locked cabinets and behind the counter.

“E-cigarettes are illegal to those 19 and under,” Ray said. “But recently a Utah high school high took 200 e-cigarettes from their students. Somewhere many kids are getting those.”

The bill, which was introduced at the tail end of the legislative session last week, received a vehement response from local e-cigarette users, vendors and their employees, as well as lawmakers.

Rachel Lowry