The new research adds to a growing body of evidence indicating that banning the sales of safer alternatives drives consumers away from the safer alternatives and back to smoking.

Using state-level cigarette sales data, the researchers found that Massachusetts, which enacted a full ban on nicotine vapes, had 7.5% higher than-expected per capita cigarette sales.

Similarly, sales data released by Piper Jaffray compared the four weeks ending October 20th 2019, to the four weeks prior to the ban, and then compared the figures to the sales data of the same period last year. The analysis revealed that as predicted, ex-smokers in Massachusetts who had switched to vaping in order to curb their habit, returned to smoking.

The decline in cigarette sales’ rates lowered

In a post on his blog page discussing these figures, public health expert Dr. Michael Siegel, pointed out that on a national scale there was only a minimal difference in cigarette sales between these two time periods from 2018 to 2019, and that however this difference was more significant in Massachusetts.

“Nationally, there was very little difference in the rate of decline in cigarette sales between these two time periods from 2018 to 2019. The rate of decline decelerated by 0.3 percentage points (from -7.8% to -7.5%). However, in Massachusetts, the rate of decline decelerated by a massive 5.7 percentage points (from -9.8% to -4.1%),” said Siegel.

“Another way of expressing this is that in September 2019, national cigarette sales were 92.5% of what they were in September 2018, and in October 2019, they were 92.2% of what they were in October, 2018. Thus, there was little change in the rate of decline,” he explained about the national figures.

However, he pointed out, the data specific to Massachusetts tells a different story. “While cigarette sales in September 2019 were 90.2% of what they were in September 2018, in October 2019, they were 95.9% of what they were in October 2018, a substantial lowering of the rate of decline in cigarette sales.”

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