Hoosier Politician’s Unhealthy Relationship with Big Tobacco

Hoosier Politician’s Unhealthy Relationship with Big Tobacco

guy smoking

It’s okay to have fun. But when you’re having too much fun legislators take notice. That’s what happened when young Indiana upstarts decided to mix a bit of nicotine, propylene glycol, flavoring, and other ingredients to vape away their tobacco cravings.

Republican State Representative Kevin Mahan took notice and took action. If these young upstarts want to manufacture an alternative to a carcinogenic habit, they need to pay $1000.00 for that privilege (plus a $200.00 tobacco sales permit) before July of 2016. All of them do. In state and out.

Hoosier Vapers Inc., an Indiana based trade and consumer advocacy group for electronic cigarettes, took exception. Their claim is that

“If this law remains unchanged, all, but a select few, of the eLiquid manufacturers in Indiana will be forced to shut down or move out of state, manufacturers outside of Indiana will no longer be able to sell their products to Indiana retailers, and Indiana retailers will no longer be able to carry the national and local brands that their adult customers enjoy.”

Suppose you are part of a new generation of entrepreneurs and you come of age in 2017. If that’s the case, you are legally not allowed to vapemanufacture this alternative to tobacco as an entrepreneur but must instead employ yourself with someone from an older generation who obtained a permit before gatekeepers like Kevin Mahon and company threw away the key.

As with all industries there are a lot of potential dangers in the manufacturing, storing, and distribution of the product. This doesn’t begin to explain why competition should be permanently capped in favor of a wealthy few who can realize the regulatory costs in such a short timeframe nor does it address the inevitable criminalization of the thousands who will participate in a thriving black market in the face of artificial supply restrictions. What does?

An $800 dollar campaign contribution to Kevin Mahon’s 2012 campaign by Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco firm, is probably not significant enough to influence him in a decision to author such a protectionist bill that favors big tobacco. The largest donors to Mahon’s campaign were from the Republican Party of Indiana and the House Republican Campaign Committee of Indiana. They received $96,500 and $66,250 from large tobacco firms since the year 2000. Is that enough to influence Kevin Mahan’s legislative endeavors? Only Representative Mahon knows the answer to that question.

This is not a problem isolated to the Republican Party and the bipartisan support for this legislation is evidence of that. If you want to learn more about your particular legislator I encourage you to go to www.followthemoney.org.

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