'E-cigarette" definition measure rejected by the House

Jan 29, 2015

A measure that would have classified “e-cigarettes” as “non tobacco products” for tax purposes was rejected by the North Dakota House.

That definition was added as an amendment to a bill originally proposed by the state Tax Department. It was billed as a clean-up measure. The amendment would have meant that e-cigarettes would only be subject to a sales tax, and not the tobacco tax.

The amendment’s opponents said it was added at the last minute without any hearing. They also said the e-cigarette packages are clearly labeled with “nicotine derived from tobacco.”

"What is an e-cigarette," said Rep. David Monson (R-Osnabrock). "It's a device used to ingest nicotine in the form of a vapor. What is a cigarette? A device -- a paper tube -- stuffed with tobacco, which contains nicotine, that has to be vaporized in order to ingest it. There's no difference."

"I suppose if we want to say that 'black is blue,' we probably can do that," said Rep. Lawrence Klemin (R-Bismarck). "But black is still black. To say in a bill like this that another tobacco product doesn't include a product that says it contains tobacco just doesn't seem logical to me."

Supporters said there are other bills pending that would further define what an e-cigarette is – and adjustments could be made after those went through the process. But the amendment was rejected on a vote of 52 to 41 – and the bill goes back to the House Finance and Tax Committee for further work.