HB 1645 Won’t Ban Flavors, Online Sales

Hello fellow vapers! This is the kind of thing we’ve been waiting for: the State of Washington has refused to pass HB 1645 in its initial formulation, so, for now, Washington vapers are free to vape to the extent of their hearts’ desires. As a quick refresher, HB 1645 in Washington was the bill that would have increased taxes on all e-liquids and vaping accessories to an egregious 95%. Not only that, but by passing the bill the State of Washington was also poised to ban all e-liquid flavors, much like is done with cigarettes (though keep in mind that “cigars” are not subject to the same restrictions, which means that, for example, Black and Milds can be flavored like anything at all; so much for fairness). The bill would also have imposed further regulations on vape shops, requiring them to stop selling products to minors (okay, this one is fair enough) and to register with the state licensing department every year.

As might be expected, the bill was largely supported by Washington House Democrats, while Republicans overall opposed it – though exceptions existed on both sides of the political spectrum. This is largely due to the general stance the two parties take towards regulation and taxation; the Democrats see regulations and taxes as integral to the functioning of all industries, while Republicans are more skeptical about the roles these two elements play in the marketplace. I’m not about to get into a discussion of the general applicability of the two political (and economic) philosophies, but I do believe that in this particular instance, misgivings about taxes and regulation are totally justified. More than anything else, the effect of the HB 1645 regulations would have been to severely impede the operation of local small businesses for the benefit of large corporations.

The bill’s planned bans on online sales and flavors also played a huge part in why the House ultimately decided to heavily amend it. According to documents from the public hearings, some of those who might have supported the bill otherwise took issues with the fact that “many sections have documentation requirements that are unworkable and penalty provisions for noncompliance that are far too harsh” and proposed that “the bill should be amended to remedy these problems and to allow Internet sales of vapor products.” Others argued that since vapor products do not have any innate flavoring, if they are to be available as a safer alternative to smoking, “they need to be flavored in order to make the vapor palatable, even for adults.”

Which brings me to my next point. This is the kind of thing we’re going to be seeing over and over again whenever lawmakers propose egregiously restrictive regulations. Though the Washington House could likely have passed mildly restrictive regulations with little opposition, it was their unwillingness to compromise that ultimately doomed HB 1645. I guess in a sense that means that the ridiculous regulations are the ones we should be cheering on, knowing full well that they are doomed to fail.

Happy vaping!

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