In the state’s new budget for 2020-2021, released Friday, the governor’s office included an additional vaping tax of $2 for every 40 milligrams of nicotine in a product, which is “equivalent to the tax on a pack of cigarettes,” according to the budget summary.
The new tax would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, and would add to existing taxes on e-cigarettes, which are already taxed as tobacco products.
State lawmakers still have to approve the governor’s new budget by mid-June.
The budget summary estimates that the new vaping tax would bring in about $32 million in revenue for 2020-2021 and would be used for prevention, enforcement and more.
“We must take immediate action to meet the urgency behind this public health crisis and youth epidemic,” Newsom said in September after signing an executive order launching a statewide public awareness campaign to educate youth and parents about the health risks of vaping.
“As a parent, I understand the anxiety caused by the deceptive marketing tactics and flavored options designed to target our kids,” he added.
From 2016 to 2018, vaping among California high school students rose 27% ― with about 1 in 10 California high schoolers reporting using e-cigarettes in 2018, per the governor’s office.
Reports of vaping-related injuries and deaths have been making headlines in recent months. Across the country, there have been over 2,600 cases of hospitalizations and 57 deaths related to e-cigarette or vaping product use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ― with an outbreak of such cases beginning in June 2019 and peaking in September. The CDC and other agencies are currently investigating the cause of the illnesses.
In California, four people have died since June and over 170 with a history of vaping have been hospitalized for severe breathing problems and lung damage, per the California Department of Public Health. In a message on its website, the CDPH “urges everyone to refrain from vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current investigations are complete.”
Newsom said in his budget Friday that he will also be supporting a statewide ban ― currently moving through the state legislature ― against all flavored nicotine products as of January 2021. Critics say such products draw in underage customers.
In the state budget, Newsom’s office also included over $1 billion to address the issue of homelessness, which has been worsening in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and other regions in recent years.