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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.

“Revenues for the existing cigarette tax funds were 64 percent lower in May 2017 than in May 2016. This sharp decline could reflect a combination of various responses to the tax increase, including temporary responses (such as stockpiling) and permanent responses (such as lower smoking rates).” State Legislative Analyst Office

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.

Tax revenues have decreased by 60% from May 2016 to May 2017.
“Revenues for the existing cigarette tax funds were 64 percent lower in May 2017 than in May 2016. This sharp decline could reflect a combination of various responses to the tax increase, including temporary responses (such as stockpiling) and permanent responses (such as lower smoking rates).” said the study.

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.

Vaping products could be part of the solution in reversing the current health epidemic caused by smoking, and they should be regulated as such.
Studies keep indicating that e-cigarettes are significantly safer than the latter, and they are also the preferred and most effective smoking cessation tools to date, since they mimic the action of smoking. Vaping products could be part of the solution in reversing the current health epidemic caused by smoking, and they should be regulated as such.

 

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  • Robert Fairrington

    Meanwhile, Mexico and Arizona report a spike in cigarette sales since prop 56 was implemented. Coincidence?

  • charlie

    Last Friday the FDA announced they will delay the ecig deeming rules for 5 years. At the same time they announce the intention to use their existing authority to nearly eliminate nicotine from cigarettes and encourage smokers to get their nic fix from less harmful and less expensive sources–like ecigarettes. When smoking parents switch to vaping it’s a big economic benefit to families. There should be no interference with this.