June 25, 2020 Atlanta - Bert Reeves (R-Marietta), left, and Bonnie Rich (R- Suwanee) who presented SB-375 wait for the result after the vote in the House Chambers on day 39 of the legislative session at Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, June 25, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Vaping tax advances as tobacco tax stalls in Georgia House

The Georgia House voted Thursday to impose a 7% tax on vaping products while leaving tobacco taxes at some of the lowest rates in the nation.

The legislation, Senate Bill 375, also would raise the age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21.

The House passed the bill 123-33, and it now advances to the state Senate for a final vote Friday.

Live: Track major Georgia bills and see odds of passing 

The legislation would help reach the goal of “curbing and hopefully eliminating the epidemic of our youth using and abusing vapes,” said state Rep. Bonnie Rich, a Republican from Suwanee.

The 7% tax, along with licensing fees for vaping product sellers, would raise between $9.6 million and $14.5 million in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Wednesday, according to state estimates.

Minority Leader Bob Trammell said state lawmakers are missing an opportunity to raise hundreds of millions of dollars more by raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Georgia has one of the lowest cigarette tax rates in the nation at 37 cents per pack. A Senate committee voted last week to raise the cigarette tax rate to $1.35 per back, but that legislation faces dim products in the House.

“This House could’ve had the opportunity to raise revenue that could be applied to the budget,” said Trammell, a Democrat from Luthersville. “We’re saying as a House that we’re uninterested in that opportunity.”

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