Delaware’s new tax on vaping products takes effect Jan. 1

Vaping liquid in a variety of flavors are available. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Vaping liquid in a variety of flavors are available. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Beginning Jan. 1, Delawareans who “vape,” or smoke electronic cigarettes, will join smokers of more traditional tobacco products in having to pay a tax on the products.

That’s when a new levy on e-juice takes effect — the often flavored liquid containing nicotine used to produce the vapor in e-cigarettes, which have become increasingly popular, especially among young people.

Starting Monday, Delaware residents will pay five cents for each fluid milliliter of e-juice in the vapor products they buy.

Smokers use these electronic devices to get the same sensation as smoking, but potentially with fewer nicotine, carcinogens, and chemicals than traditional cigarettes — although public health researchers are debating the risks and benefits of the products.

Delaware Gov. John Carney initially proposed a 30 percent wholesale tax on e-juice products, which many owners of the more than a dozen vape shops in Delaware feared would put their livelihoods at risk. In Pennsylvania, a similar measure that went into effect in 2016 put a 40 percent wholesale tax on e-juice products, and resulted in the closure of about 100 vape shops in the state, according to the Vapor Technology Association.

Delaware’s general assembly eventually settled on the five cents per fluid milliliter excise tax. Carney signed the tax into law in July.

In 2017, the general assembly passed several revenue measures in an effort to balance the state budget and avoid a $400 million deficit. These include increasing cigarette taxes by 50 cents, and the alcohol tax by a few cents per ounce, depending on the type of beverage.

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