Lawmakers hear testimony on bill seeking to tax nicotine vape products
Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center (GBHWC) Director Theresa Arriola states, “One in three of our youth self-reported as vapers.”
Lawmakers heard testimony on Thursday on Senator Joe San Agustin’s Bill 193 which seeks to tax what the measure calls “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems,” or ENDS.
“Everyone wants to talk about how our minors are affected? There's no enforcement? You can continue to expect them to be affected,” said San Agustin.
The bill aims to reduce youth vape consumption while providing a tax incentive for the Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH) and the Department of Revenue and Taxation (DRT).
Co-sponsor Telo Taitague made a comparison with the tobacco sin tax.
Taitague said, “We saw that the increase in tax on tobacco back in 2009, we saw a significant drop in the uses in tobacco because of the cost. We saw that in the healthy futures fund where we would collect $23 million and now it's dwindling down to almost $19 million. And that’s due to [the tax].”
Vapes that may contain nicotine would be taxed 10% in the first year and 20% in the following year.
Revenue would be split between GMH and Rev and Tax, 60 to 40% respectively.
Rev and Tax supports the measure with some recommendations, like increasing the annual retail license from $200 up to no more than $500.
Public Health agreed with the fee increase but wants tax incentives for all of GovGuam.
The measure also drew full support from Vape Escape owner Bistra Mendiola.
Mendiola said, “I’m in full support of this bill because it addresses the issue we have been seeing and experiencing in the community. Our children today are being raised not to face serious consequences in our community.”
Meanwhile, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network opposes Bill 193 in its current form, like criminalizing youth possession use.
Cynthia Au said, “Penalizing youth can divert enforcement of retailers from illegally selling tobacco products to kids in the first place and can present enforcement challenges.”
Senators also heard testimony on a separate measure that seeks to tax all vape products.