In November 2016, Californians voted in favor of Proposition 56, a levy on tobacco products, which resulted in a tax increase of $2 per cigarette pack. Many are saying that this tax increase was successful in deterring many from smoking as cigarette sales have decreased dramatically since it went into effect.
A study conducted by the State Legislative Analyst Office clearly indicates that people are buying less cigarettes. Infact, tax revenues have decreased by 60% from May 2016 to May 2017. High Society Smoke Shop owner Zak Refai concurs, “Sales declined, I’d say dramatically declined.” Refai added that he has witnessed a 30 to a 40 percent drop in sales, and has observed many people switching to cheaper tobacco alternatives such as electronic cigarettes.
However, the Analysts Office pointed out that it is too soon to determine whether the decrease in sales is truly significant. Since the study also reflects an increase in tax revenues for March and April of this year, it could simply be the case of people stocking up and buying extra cigarettes ahead of the tax implementation.
Missing the point?
Despite the fact that everyone agrees that a decrease in smoking would be a step in the right direction, lawmakers in California (as in other states in the US), keep making one big mistake. As many public health experts have been pointing out, regulating and taxing safer alternatives such as vaping products in the same way as regular cigarettes is counterproductive for public health.
More info : abc 30