Lansing, MI – Recently, a group of Senators introduced a package of bills dealing with e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. Andrew Schepers, director of government relations in Michigan for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), made the following statement in reaction.
“ACS CAN acknowledges that Michigan lawmakers want to address the toll of tobacco on Michiganders, but when it comes to these bills, the devil is in the details. These bills will not have an impact on the toll of tobacco in our state and will not protect our youth from the tobacco industry.
“The low tax proposed in SB 781 would not apply to all e-cigarettes, leaving countless products available at inexpensive prices youth can afford. All e-cigarettes should be defined and taxed as a tobacco product at 32% of the wholesale price, the same rate as the tax on other tobacco products. Any tax that exempts some products or taxes them at a reduced rate will not protect our kids. Tobacco tax increases must be regular and significant and apply to all tobacco products at a parallel rate to reduce tobacco use.
“While SB 784 would raise the current age of sale from 18 to 21, it does not provide for any active enforcement to ensure that retailers aren’t selling to youth. Without a licensing structure in place for all tobacco retailers, including e-cigarette retailers, how will the state know where these products are being sold? The tobacco industry would like you to believe that simply raising the age will be enough to combat the youth epidemic we are seeing in Michigan, but the truth is without a comprehensive approach to actively enforce the law to ensure retailers aren’t selling to our youth, we will continue to see retailers selling dangerous products to Michigan kids.
“ACS CAN supports strong tobacco 21 policies that cover all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, provide public education and training and technical assistance to retailers, and implement measures for active enforcement, including retailer licensing and graduated fines coupled with license suspension and revocation for non-compliant retailers. Strong laws do not establish or retain separate categories of products that continue to exempt certain tobacco products from other tobacco control laws, penalize youth or preempt other jurisdictions from passing strong tobacco control laws.
“ACS CAN, its volunteers and health advocacy partners call on lawmakers to vote no on both proposals, SB0781 and SB0784. ACS CAN and its partners stand ready to work with lawmakers to pass evidence-based tobacco control legislation that will protect our youth and reduce the toll of tobacco on Michigan. Let’s not continue to allow the tobacco industry to addict another generation in order to secure their profits.”
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.