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Utah Lawmakers to Consider an 86% Tax on E-Cigarettes

The Utah State Capitol
The Utah State Capitol

A Utah lawmaker wants to tax e-cigarettes, and use the money for rural healthcare.

Republican Representative Paul Ray says his main concern with electronic cigarettes is that they’re marketed to kids.

“We’ve had almost a 500% increase in youth access, youth using e-cigarettes over the past couple years,” Ray says. “So it’s at epidemic levels, and we feel it’s time to treat that as it is, and try to keep the next generation from being addicted to tobacco.”

Ray is sponsoringa bill that would impose an 86 percent tax on e-cigarette products and nicotine inhalers. Some of the money would go towards funding healthcare programs in rural Utah.

Ray, who is based in Clinton, says he’s concerned about a lack of access to medical professionals, school absenteeism, and high suicide rates in some rural areas. His bill would fund nurses in schools and telehealth programs. But he may have some competition for those funds. Lawmakers are also eyeing an e-cigarette tax as a way to help pay for a Medicaid expansion.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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