On Election Day, North Dakotans will have five measures on the state ballot. One of those measures, Measure 4, proposes to increase the tax on the sale of tobacco products, including liquid nicotine products which are used for e-cigarettes.
Evan Wollan and Davin Schneider opened Midwest Vapors only six months ago. Already, the men are worried they’ll have to close up shop. Not because of a lack of customers, but because of the proposed tax increase on their products.
“A 400 percent increase on our end too? Why would they want to spend $30 on a juice when they can spend then dollars on a pack of cigarettes,” says Wollan.
Some argue the state’s cigarette tax hasn’t been raised in more than a decade and the proposed increase will put North Dakota on par with cigarette taxes in neighboring states.
“They missed the mark on it a little bit,” Wollan contends. “They could have left us out and it would have been a really good bill,” he says.
The co-owners say they used to smoke cigarettes but since they have started vaping, both have quit.
Supporters of Measure 4 say the tax increase will help discourage smoking. But that’s also what the owners of Midwest Vapors say they’re trying to do.
“We’re trying to get people on a healthier alternative and stuff like that. Just trying to change the trend for the new generation,” says Wollan.
Those who support Measure 4 believe imposing a high sales tax will make things better for the next generation by preventing youth from purchasing tobacco products in the first place.
But the owners of Midwest Vapors say the measure will have an adverse effect on those trying to kick the habit by making it prohibitively expensive to switch to vaping.
Should the measure pass, money raised by the tax increase will go toward health programs and veteran services.