After weeks of debates and hearings, it appears that Montana’s proposed vape taxes have been placed on hold once more. State senator Mary Caferro introduced state Senate Bill 354 in the first week of March.

The proposal included a sudden tax hike on vapor products of 74% of the wholesale price, making it one of the highest vapor taxes in the nation. However, it now looks like the bill is dead in the State House of Representatives.

The Big Picture

The vapor tax proposed in SB354 was actually part of a larger bill seeking to raise tax revenue from all forms of tobacco products. The bill specifically contained language that made it clear that any device which could be used to deliver nicotine, such as vaporizers and e-cigarettes, would be subject to the tax, whether they actually contained nicotine or not.

The proposal also indicated that the tax revenue would be invested in the state’s healthcare industry, raising healthcare worker wages and providing Medicaid support.

Sailing Through the Senate

Throughout March, SB354 appeared to be on its way to an easy pass. It made big headlines across the nation as it passed through the State Senate.

This prompted a response from vape advocates, as well as consumers within the state who rallied against it. Among their complaints was the fact that the rate hike was so steep it would have economic consequences for vape shop owners, but also that the bill’s sponsors didn’t seem to have any clear idea of how much money would actually be generated or if it would make a positive impact on the healthcare system at all.

Stopping in the House

Once SB354 hit the State House, vapers stayed on the edge of their seats anticipating bad news. The House held their own round of hearings and debates on the subject, and quickly made amendments to the bill.

After the first hearing, a committee executive action vote took place and the bill was not concurred. There was an opportunity for an adverse committee report to be adopted and for lawmakers reconcile the differences between the Senate and House versions, but they were unable to rally enough support.

As of now, the Montana Legislature website states that the bill is “Probably Dead.” While there is still some chance that the legislation could be revived, many vapers are expressing their relief that it was never passed.

Looking to the Future

Most vapers recognize that there will almost certainly be some other tax proposed for vapor products in the future, but advocates hope that the next proposal will be more reasonable than 74%, and they hope that their efforts fighting against this tax will pay off in future tax battles as they have aimed to educate the committee about their products.

Despite the “probably dead” label on the bill, many vapor organizations are continuing to monitor the Montana House of Representatives for any signs that this bill could be revived unexpectedly.