I saw a guy inhaling from an e-cigarette in a theater lobby the other night. That seemed to be OK. Now Lorillard is buying a company that makes them. And there’s a loophole. “Prices for e-cigarettes vary greatly but can cost half as much as traditional cigarettes, which are heavily taxed.” “Got a Light—er Charger? Big Tobacco’s Latest Buzz,” Mike Esterl, WSJ, April 26, 2012, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304723304577365723851497152.html
These products don’t cause noticeable second-hand smoke, and they are touted as healthier. But it’s hard to figure they should be tax-free. As of this 2010 posting, they seem to be getting away with exemption: “One of the frustrations of smokers today is ever increasing state and federal excise taxes on tobacco. Whether you’re smoking traditional cigarettes or use smokeless products like snuff or leaf tobacco, the cost of those habits has increased dramatically in the last couple years.
“For now, smokeless electronic cigarettes are not subject to these taxes so it costs much less to enjoy these novel products.” http://www.blog.modernvapor.com/vaping-news-and-insights/smokeless-electronic-cigarettes-not-subject-to-tobacco-taxes.htm
Once again, government lags behind. This reminds me of the way “synthetic marijuana” beats the system until legislatures catch up.