On Wednesday, we shared with you Chris’s fight to save his small business from a devastating tax increase. Regrettably, Chris’s business isn’t the only one threatened by the new tax—a punitive 40 percent excise on e-cigarettes.
There are between 320-350 vape shops across Pennsylvania, including Sweet Home Vapor Co PA—whose one owner and sole operator is Dori Odosso of Armstrong County. “I busted my butt to get where I am,” said Dori. “To have a new tax imposed on my business? That hurts.”
Like Chris, Dori believes she is helping improve the lives of her customers. “We’re saving people. If you make our product less accessible, people will be harmed.” Many people see e-cigarettes or vape products as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. In fact, studies suggest these alternatives can reduce the harm caused by smoking.
“I know we’re important to our customers. That’s why I’m doing everything I can to stay in business. Some customers are upset and they don’t want to go back to smoking. It’s the reason I’m fighting for my business.”
Dori, Chris, and other small business owners are preparing for the worst. Chris is planning to close, and Dori has placed her products on sale to avoid one particularly egregious aspect of the new levy known as the “floor tax.”
The floor tax requires all vape shops to make a tax payment on their current inventory. That is, they have to pay a tax on the products they already purchased prior to the tax going into effect. “To me, it all seems unfair. I feel like this is a deliberate effort to put us out of business.”
That’s not how any small business owners should feel about their government. Ever.
Lawmakers can still save the more than 300 shops from their undeserved fate. But that will require the House and Senate to reconvene and fix HB 1198 (now Act 84), preferably before the tax takes effect on October 1. Any revenue lost could be offset through spending reductions, or, at the very worst, a less harmful tax on e-cigarettes.
It’s clear Pennsylvanians' livelihoods and even their health is on the line. Righting this wrong has now become a moral imperative.