Research keeps indicating that vaping products are significantly safer than cigarettes, and are also the most effective smoking cessation tools to date. To this effect public health experts think that lawmakers should regulate these two products in a way that is relative to their risks. However, this is still rarely the case and Utah is the latest American state to propose a harsh tax on vaping products and other electronic devices, at 86.5%.
The author of this bill said that he intends to put “the price point up” in order to make it difficult for youth to purchase e-cigarettes. Interestingly, no one seems to realise that by increasing the prices of safer alternatives, they may be pushing youth back to smoking. Even more interesting is the fact that everyone seems to ignore the data indicating that where vaping rates rise, smoking rates drop.
This tax would hurt local harm reduction efforts
Inline with this, Lindsey Stroud from the Heartland Institute insists that while addressing youth vaping is commendable, a draconian tax placed on tobacco harm reduction (THR) products which would threaten the public health gains e-cigarettes provide, is not. Stroud explains that less than 10 percent of the funds that would be generated by the proposed tax would go toward tobacco prevention and education, as more than 90 percent of the expected revenue is earmarked to the state’s General Fund.
“The reduced harms resulting from the use of e-cigarettes is helpful to state budgets and lawmakers, who continuously grapple with the health costs associated with combustible cigarettes.”
Stroud pointed out that the harm reduction effects of vaping would ultimately benefit state budgets more than any tax. “The reduced harms resulting from the use of e-cigarettes is helpful to state budgets and lawmakers, who continuously grapple with the health costs associated with combustible cigarettes.”
“An analysis that estimated the potential benefits that would occur if all current Medicaid recipients who use combustible tobacco were to switch to e-cigarettes found that Medicaid savings could have amounted to $48 billion in 2012. A smaller study found Medicaid savings “would be approximately $2.8 billion per 1 percent of [Medicaid] enrollees” over the next 25 years,” added Stroud.
Additionally, she explained, such a tax will no doubt hurt the local vape industry. “After Pennsylvania passed a 40 percent wholesale tax on e-cigarettes in 2016, an estimated 120 vape shops closed. It is estimated that vape shops “generate annual non-online sales of more than $300,00 per store” and average $26,000 in monthly sales. The proposed legislation would likely drive current and new vapers to turn to internet-based distributors. E-cigarette online sales grew 41.3 percent from 2016 to 2017, from $345 million to $487.7 million,” she explained.
The public keeps receiving the wrong message about vaping
Sadly, besides making the products inaccessible to smokers who would benefit by switching to the proven safer alternatives, imposing such a harsh tax on e-cigarettes also sends the wrong message to the public. It perpetuates the current misperceptions and misinformation about the devices, which have the potential of saving millions of lives otherwise lost to smoking.