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Smoking E Cigarettes

A customer exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at a store in New York. The Indiana House on Tuesday agreed to impose a 4 cents per milliliter tax on e-cigarette liquids and gels if they contain nicotine. House Bill 1444 now goes to the Senate.

INDIANAPOLIS — Electronic cigarette users soon could be required to pay a tax on the liquids and gels used in their devices if the "vape juice" contains nicotine.

The Republican-controlled Indiana House voted 53-40 Tuesday to impose a new tax of 4 cents per milliliter on e-cigarette materials containing nicotine as a way to reduce what several representatives described as a youth vaping "epidemic."

"This is, as many of us know, kind of a scourge of what's happening now with our young people, middle school and high school," said state Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette. "So I think it's time that we taxed this when we have taxed cigarettes."

State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordville, sponsor of House Bill 1444, suggested it's not a new tax. Rather, the state would simply extend its existing cigarette tax to e-cigarettes — and at a lower overall rate.

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency projects Indiana could collect between $2 million and $3.67 million when the e-cigarette tax is fully implemented in 2021. The legislation directs the revenue be deposited in the state's general fund.

State Rep. Ryan Dvorak, D-South Bend, opposed the measure. He said it's wrong for the Legislature to constantly cut taxes for businesses and wealthy estates, while hiking the sales tax, gasoline tax and other taxes Hoosier workers pay.

"It's too much. It's not a coherent tax policy," Dvorak said. "Taxes are necessary to run this government. I understand that. But we're asking more and more of the little guy and less and less of those who can afford it."

The measure now goes to the Senate.

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.