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Utah lawmakers recommend taxing e-cigarettes to curb teen use

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers are recommending a big tax on e-cigarettes to hopefully keep teens from vaping.

They want to hike the excise tax by 86% to raise the cost of the vaping products by nearly 50%.

State Senator Allan Christensen told the legislative committee there’s an epidemic of teen vaping.

“It embarrasses me to say that San Francisco stepped ahead of Utah and took the step of absolutely banning vaping in their city, and Utah can’t manage to do anything about it.”

Lobbyist Michael Siler told a legislative committee that teen vaping has reached epidemic levels in Utah.

“Our projections are that 18.3% or nearly 42,000 Utah youth ages 13 to 17 use e-cigarettes or vaping products on a daily basis.”

Earlier this year Utah became the 8th state to raise the tobacco age to 21. Health officials say nicotine hurts teen brains and their lungs.

They unanimously agreed to recommend the bill hoping the tax revenue would fund education about the consequences of vaping and nicotine on teens bodies.