Upstate e-cigarette shop worries higher tax could hurt business - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate e-cigarette shop worries higher tax could hurt business

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Jason Haggan smokes an electronic cigarette at his shop. (May 6, 2013/FOX Carolina) Jason Haggan smokes an electronic cigarette at his shop. (May 6, 2013/FOX Carolina)
GREER, SC (FOX Carolina) -

An Upstate business that specializes in electronic cigarettes believes they're being singled out by the state, and it could cost the owner his livelihood.

A new bill moving through the South Carolina Statehouse would tax e-cigarettes as much as highly taxed real cigarettes.

The owners at the Vapor Room Café on Wade Hampton Road in Greer acknowledge that, yes, their vapor cigarettes have nicotine, but they don't have the tar and other chemicals that cigarettes do.

Jason Haggan said the e-liquid is healthier and creates more of a cessation alternative. He said they shouldn't be taxed the same as cigarettes.

The shop opened just a month ago and Haggan said he actually only tried the vapor cigarettes himself in January, but he said he stopped his 20-year smoking habit in four days. He said he believed so strongly in the product that he wanted to open the shop to help others quit, too.

Haggan said a tax that would make the now cheaper e-liquid cost about 35 cents more and add extra cost to him as a business owner isn't fair - especially when, he said, these e-cigs don't have the same effects as cigarette smoking.

"It's just one of the good selling points, that it's cheaper than cigarettes. So the more than they can impose tax on this, the more unattractive it becomes to people that are really seriously thinking about stopping," said Haggan.

Rep. Michael Pitts, R-District 14, is a bill sponsor and second vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which is hearing the bill. He said he wanted to sponsor the bill because as these e-cigs become more popular, he thinks they should be taxed the same as other nicotine products. Pitts said he still needs to hear from all the experts fighting on each side of this issue.

So far the bill has been introduced and is in subcommittee. Pitts said because there is still a ways to go with the budget and other bills, it may not be heard until next January.

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