As part of his Fiscal Year 2015 State Budget plan, Gov. Chris Christie proposes taxing electronic cigarettes at the same rate as conventional cigarettes -- $2.70 per pack. One state legislator, who has already asked the federal government to study the health impacts of e-cigarettes, supports the governor's idea.

(Credit: Goodluz, ThinkStock)
(Credit: Goodluz, ThinkStock)

"If e-cigarettes are taxed less than regular cigarettes we're sending a message out there that they're somehow safer, and I think the jury is out on that," said Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton Square). "The proposed equalization of taxation on e-cigarettes to be the same as regular cigarettes is a proposal that should be seriously looked at."

Opponents argue that many people who are using e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking will simply go back to regular cigarettes if the tax hike is enacted. Benson dismissed that. He explained there are plenty of programs and products to help people stop smoking.

"I think this is a positive step from a health perspective," Benson said. "Obviously there's some revenue benefits as well, so I'm hoping the budget committee looks at that seriously and considers it."

If the tax change is enacted, it will generate an estimated $35 million in revenue for the state. E-cigarettes are currently taxed under the state's wholesale tobacco tax, which is 7 percent.

Although he didn't give details about the implementation of the tax change plan, in his briefing State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said e-cigarettes would be taxed "at a rate that achieves parity with the overall tax applicable to conventional cigarettes."