After a long discussion, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly passed a motion to instate an excise tax on tobacco products at their regular meeting last night. From the beginning, it was clear there were a lot of opinions surrounding the issue.
Michael Johnson, owner of the local vape shop Kodiak Steam Trunk, called the assembly to voice his concerns. He said that it was unfair to hold e-cigarettes and vaporizers to the same standard as other tobacco products, and that the excise tax would threaten his business.
“Unlike traditional tobacco, my customers can purchase everything I sell online and have it delivered to their doors. I would have to raise prices while my online competitors are effectively exempt from this tax.”
Multiple members of the assembly said, that in their research they’d found a person could buy e-cigarettes and related products online. Assemblyman Dave Townsend introduced an amendment to make these products exempt from the tax. He said imposing a charge on something that could be bought on the internet isn’t going to do Kodiak any good.
“we’re trying to introduce this to generate revenue. We’re not gonna generate any revenue if people are buying this stuff on the internet. So I think we should stay away from the entire issue of trying to tax that.”
The majority of the assembly agreed with Townsend and made e-cigarettes, vaporizers, and related products exempt. The assembly also changed the 45 percent tax on the wholesale price of non cigarettes to 25 percent. The final vote on the tobacco excise tax was five in favor and two against. This policy will go into effect later this fall.