Oregon vapor industry looks at future legislation that may affect local vapors

October 29, 2016

Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, plans to introduce legislation to change Oregon’s Indoor Clean Air Act, which currently prohibits the sampling of e-liquid products within a vaping establishment, when the Oregon Legislature reconvenes in February.

His proposal would allow patrons of vape shops to sample products within the store.

“We want people going into a vape shop to be able to sample the various flavors to find what they like,” Kruse said, which would benefit the majority of consumers who began vaping to quit smoking.

Kruse had planned to be the guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Northwest Vapor Association held Tuesday at the Vape Crusaders shop in Roseburg where members discussed future legislation affecting the vapor industry. Illness forced him to cancel the appearance.

Vaping is the practice of inhaling and exhaling vapor via a device called a module that’s similar to an electronic cigarette. The device vaporizes e-liquids made of food-grade vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, flavors and nicotine.

Kruse spoke by phone earlier this week about his proposal.

“This is something that will help get people off cigarettes, so we should be encouraging it instead of making it more difficult,” he said.

This proposed legislation would only allow e-liquid sampling within a vape shop, so consumers would still have to abide by the rules of the Indoor Clean Air Act regarding vaping in public places.

Kruse also anticipates that another proposal will be submitted before the Oregon Legislature to tax vape products at the same rate as cigarette products.

“What frustrates me is that on one hand the government says it wants everybody to quit smoking, but on the other hand (the government) makes a lot of money off it, and it tries to discourage people who are doing something different,” Kruse said.

Northwest Vapor Association lobbyist Matt Minahan from Salem confirmed that a taxing proposal for the vaping industry is likely to go before state legislators this February. Minahan said he participated in a work group in September that discussed taxing the vape industry.

The work group was led by Rep. Rob Nosse and Rep. Kathleen Taylor, who discussed taxing the Oregon vape industry similar to a Minnesota law that currently taxes vape products at a 95 percent tax rate on the wholesale cost of tobacco products like nicotine.

“Them holding a work group on this shows that they are taking the time to study it,” Minahan said. “It’s our hope they’ll oppose such a huge tax obligation on a new young industry.”

Minahan said that further vape taxing discussions will determine whether to impose a retail versus a wholesale tax on vaping, whether to tax the vaping equipment and whether to tax the vaping internet industry.

Roseburg Vape Crusader shop owner Jason Weber said if a high tax rate is imposed on vape products, Oregon vape shops would be adversely affected, sending business out of state. The vapor industry currently pays no taxes in Oregon.

“If we had to pay a tax it would put our shops out of business and either send customers back to smoking or to online sales,” Weber said.