TULSA, Okla. — State senators passed Senate Bill 1078, Tuesday. The bill redefines "tobacco products" under state statute for tax purposes.
The amendment strikes language in state law defining "other kinds and forms of tobacco suitable for smoking" as tobacco products.
"This will create an avenue of access for youth," Corey Love, specialist for Tulsa Health Department's Healthy Living Program. "Easy access."
Love and Sarah Rivin of the American Heart Association in Oklahoma, said the bill would exempt nicotine products, such as lozenges and pouches from a state excise tax. Along with e-cigarettes and vape devices which are already exempt.
“When those products, which are already pretty cheap get even cheaper, they become more attractive to new users, and of course when we’re talking about new users we’re talking about teens," Rivin said.
Jennifer Burton, owner of Vape This shops in Tulsa and Broken Arrow, Okla., told 2 News it does not make sense to include nicotine products without tobacco under "tobacco products."
"It's not tobacco," she said.
Vaporized nicotine has shown risk of lung inflammation in rare cases, and the stimulant is addictive. However, Burton said other chemicals like caffeine are addictive and do not have additional sales tax.
“It sends the wrong message to the user that you’re placing a sin tax on somebody that’s trying to use a product to keep them from using cigarettes," Burton said.
Senate Bill 1078 is now in the state house chamber and is expected to be voted on as early as Wednesday.
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