“In the face of the pandemic, states across the geographic and political spectrum — including Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico and New York — are actively considering tobacco tax increases during their legislative sessions. Last month, a bipartisan increasing revenues for community programs and lowering future health-care costs for governments and businesses.supermajority in the Maryland Legislature moved to increase the state’s cigarette tax by $1.75 per pack, the first increase in nearly a decade, and to establish a tax on e-cigarettes to fund tobacco cessation and health programs,” said Brown.
She went on to accurately mention the health risks related to smoking. However, she followed this with an inaccurate claim about the relationship between tobacco use and contracting the virus. “On top of that, smoking and vaping increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.” A claim which science has not only debunked, but actually proven to have the opposite effect.
The science on tobacco taxes
In fact, contrary to Brown’s arguments, a recent study published in the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, looking at the effects of traditional cigarette and e-cigarette tax rates on adult tobacco consumption rates, found that increased tax rates on vaping products are directly proportional to increased smoking rates.
The study titled, “The effects of traditional cigarette and e-cigarette tax rates on adult tobacco product use,” analysed the effects of taxes on traditional cigarettes and vaping products, on use patterns of these same products among adults in the United States. The researchers examined data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), over the period from 2011 to 2018.
The research found evidence that higher taxes on traditional cigarettes reduce adult smoking and increase adult e-cigarette use. Similarly, higher e-cigarette tax rates increased traditional cigarette use and reduced vaping.
“Cross-tax effects imply that the products are economic substitutes. Our results suggest that a proposed national e-cigarette tax of $1.65 per millilitre of vaping liquid would raise the proportion of adults who smoke cigarettes daily by approximately 1 percentage point, translating to 2.5 million extra adult daily smokers compared to the counterfactual of not having the tax,” read the study Abstract.