There is no denying it, increased vaping rates are directly correlating to decreased smoking rates all across the globe, and scientific data keeps confirming this. However, flavour bans and excessive taxation are driving vapers back to smoking, sadly undoing all the positive work that many smoke-free organizations have carried out to encourage this transition.
To add insult to injury, despite the data indicating that e-cigarettes are significantly safer than their combustible counterparts, in some cases their tax rates are higher than those of the latter. “Taxing the products that cause illness at a lower rate than the solution is completely counter intuitive and counterproductive. It is nonsensical that vapour products are being taxed at a higher rate than cigarettes after being proven 95% less harmful by the Royal College of Physicians, a result that has been replicated through annual studies in each of the past six years,” points out the CVA.
“There is a plethora of research available which shows conclusively that taxation on vaping products serves only to increase use of tobacco products, North America’s leading cause of death,” adds the CVA whilst referring to such a study from Minnesota.
“E-cigarettes and cigarettes are economic substitutes. So, if you raise taxes on one product, you will increase use of the other.”Michael Pesko, Health Economist and Assistant Professor, Georgia State University.
Increased e-cig taxes led to increased tobacco use, and a decrease in smoking cessation
“If vaping products had not been taxed, an additional 32,400 adults would have quit smoking.”
The Minnesota study found that increased taxes on vaping products not only led to increased tobacco use, but also to a decrease in smoking cessation rates. “‘The impact of E-cig taxes on smoking rates: Evidence from Minnesota,’ found that taxing vaping products lead to an 8.1% increase in tobacco use and a smoking cessation decrease of 1.4%. It also concluded that if vapour products had not been taxed, an additional 32,400 adults would have quit smoking.”
The above has been reflected by multiple other studies and has in some cases even been predicted by top economists ahead of the implementation of strict measures. When in 2018, San Francisco voters approved a ban on flavoured tobacco products, leading to the implementation of the first flavour ban in the US, the city’s chief economist Ted Egan had pointed out that the ban would have no material effect on the city’s economy.
This is because, he explained, the money previously spent on vaping products would still be spent in the city- on other nicotine products, such as conventional cigarettes. Egan’s office is regularly asked to analyze the economic impact of legislations in San Francisco, reports of which are then sent to the Board of Supervisors and made public on the Controller’s Office website.
Economic research led to the same conclusions
A subsequent study, titled, “The Impact of a Comprehensive Tobacco Flavour Ban in San Francisco Among Young Adults,” conducted with the aim of determining the impact of the ban on tobacco use behavior, found that sadly, Egan’s predictions had been accurate.
A sample of 247 San Francisco residents were surveyed about their e-cigarette and tobacco use, before and after the flavour ban. The compiled data indicated that while the ban did lead to a decline in e-cigarettes and cigars sales, it sadly also caused a spike in smoking rates. Additionally, the research also found that the measure was not enforced properly and 65% of participants reported being able to obtain flavoured products via illegal channels.
Similarly, with regards to taxes, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that “while cigarette taxes reduce cigarette use and e-cigarette taxes reduce e-cigarette use, they also have important interactions on each other”. Michael Pesko, a health economist and assistant professor at Georgia State University, said in a related statement. “E-cigarettes and cigarettes are economic substitutes. So, if you raise taxes on one product, you will increase use of the other.”