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It usually costs about $50 to buy the equipment to get started using electronic cigarettes, said Brandon Stauffer, who has used the devices to quit smoking. After that, the main cost is buying the “e-juice,” which is a nicotine-laced liquid that becomes the vapor when heated. A 30-milliliter dose usually costs $15-$20 and lasts about two weeks, Stauffer said.

So, under Ray’s proposal, a $20 batch of liquid nicotine would cost about $37.20. Currently, people only pay regular sales tax on electronic cigarette items.

A legislative analysis shows the state could see an additional $1.6 million a year if the e-cigarette tax becomes law.

It’s unclear how far the measure will get in this year’s legislative session, which comes to a close Thursday. An amended version of the bill passed through a House committee Wednesday afternoon. It is now awaiting debate by the full House. If approved, it moves to the Senate for consideration.

Electronic cigarettes are touted as a way to break an addiction to traditional cigarettes. Stauffer, 38, of West Point, Utah, is among the believers. He credits the devices with helping him quit smoking after 20 years. He had tried quitting a dozen different times using nicotine patches, gum and lozenges.

“Quitting smoking has never been easier. I quit almost overnight,” said Stauffer. “Cigarettes taste horrible to me now. And, I’m doing much less harm to my body by doing this.”

Since he started using electronic cigarettes in late 2011, Stauffer has gradually been cutting back on the amount of liquid nicotine in the devices. He’s hoping to be able to stop using them all together within a year.

“Vilifying these products is the wrong approach,” Stauffer said. “If the state and this country is serious about helping us make healthy choices then this is something that should be encouraged.”


Follow Brady McCombs at Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price contributed to this report.