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Coalition Calls for No Tax on E-Cigarettes [AUDIO]

A group of nearly 50 independent New Jersey small business owners have banded together in an effort to oppose a tax on electronic cigarettes proposed in Gov. Christie’s budget.

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The small business owners, all of whom own retail vapor establishments located throughout the state, have formed the New Jersey Vapor Retailers Coalition to fight against a plan by Christie to enact a “tax parity” between cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, which can be used to deliver nicotine in a water-like vapor. Christie’s spending plan anticipates that $35 million in revenue can be achieved by enacting that tax parity. Currently, cigarettes are taxed at $2.70 per pack.

“Many of these business owners are young entrepreneurs who have been contributing to the New Jersey economy for a number of years now with their retail establishments,” said Rich Levesque, vice president of public affairs at MWW Group, which is representing the coalition. “Many of them believe that this proposed tax will effectively put them out of business and halt any further expansion in the New Jersey market that they have.”

The New Jersey Vapors Retailers Coalition will be setting up meetings with lawmakers in the state Assembly and Senate, along with members of the Christie administration, to educate them on the concerns of the small business owners. The group also plans to further reach out to consumers and retailers to start a grassroots effort to get their message to Trenton.

“Once again, New Jersey is leading the charge on a new tax in a new marketplace,” Levesque said. “We haven’t seen many industries in New Jersey in the past few years. This is one of the areas that has grown in New Jersey and continues to grow. By adding this tax onto the products that are sold in their retail establishments, the fear is that folks will start shopping online for these products or it’ll be just as easy for people to go over the border into other states.”

Right now, Minnesota is the only state in the country that taxes electronic cigarettes at the same rate as tobacco products. Since Minnesota passed the tax in 2010, similar bills in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Washington and other states have failed to become law.

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