At the recent FCTC COP9, delegates reported that the number of global tobacco consumers fell from 1.32 billion in 2015 to 1.3 billion in 2020, and is expected to drop to 1.27 billion by 2025 if the current trend persists. The WHO insists that its guidelines, which include increased tobacco taxes, are behind the decreasing smoking rates.

In fact, said a recently released WHO report, 60 countries are now set to meet the global target of decreasing tobacco use by 30% between 2010 and 2025—up from 32 countries in 2019.

The science on tobacco taxes

Meanwhile, 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.

Countries following the WHO’s guidance, keep struggling with higher smoking rates

Moreover, a recent 59-page white paper discussing case studies conducted in several countries to measure smoking cessation-related progress, has shown that those following the World Health Organization’s guidance, keep struggling with higher smoking rates. Titled “Vaping Works. International Best Practices: United Kingdom, New Zealand, France and Canada,” the publication was released by the Property Rights Alliance. It consisted of four respective case studies by Christopher Snowdon (Institute of Economic Affairs, the UK), Louis Houlbrooke (New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, New Zealand), Patrick Coquart (IREF, France), and Prof Ian Irvine (Concordia University, Canada), and confirmed what public health experts have been pointing out all along.

“Countries applying progressive Tobacco Harm Reduction policies are enjoying a significant fall in smoking rates. Whereas those following the World Health Organization’s guidance continue to experience excessive smoking-related illnesses and deaths,” said the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).

CAPHRA Executive Coordinator Nancy Loucas, said that thankfully the release of this significant data coincided with the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) held last November. “Ultimately, this paper proves countries that embrace vaping, such as France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada, have witnessed a decrease in smoking rates that is twice as fast as the global average,” she said.

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In-house journalist covering international vaping news.