Taxing Vaping Increases Smoking, Study Finds
Research Validates Public Health Scholars’ Concerns
Vaping has been repeatedly demonstrated as not only one of the most effective smoking cessation aids available but a proven reduced-harm alternative to tobacco as well. Despite the current evidence surrounding it, lawmakers seem driven to prohibit and restrict vaping in any form every chance they are given.
A study from a group of public health experts finds that imposing excessive taxation targeting vaping may directly lead to increases in smoking rates. Alongside an increase in smoking rates, researchers also noted a fall in the rate of smokers who quit or attempt to quit.
This research reaffirms what public health scholars and harm reduction experts have long cautioned regarding prohibitive and restrictive policies targeting vaping. These experts have continued to advocate for common-sense legislation that treats vaping like the public health tool that it is, and regulates it independently of deadly tobacco products.
While study after study continues to validate the value of vaping, lawmakers proceed to legislate it similarly to, and in some cases even more restrictively than, tobacco products. Legislators must weigh unfounded concerns over access to vapor products, with the very real public health ramifications from driving people away from vaping back toward smoking.
Excessively taxing vapor products may impede current smokers looking to quit, and former smokers looking to continue abstaining. That’s the conclusion of a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, that aimed to understand the relationship, if any, between tax and smoking rates.
The study, titled “E-Cigarettes and Adult Smoking: Evidence from Minnesota,” takes a comprehensive look at the effects of taxation on smoking rates, analyzing data from the state’s 1992-2015 Current Population Survey’s tobacco-use supplements. Researchers found that taxing e-cigarettes at the same rate as cigarettes would not only increase e-cigarette prices by 62% but boost cigarette sales by about 8%, as well as deter around over 2 million smokers from quitting.
For example, among the 600,000 adult smokers in Minnesota in 2013, nearly 32,500 would have quit smoking had the state’s outrageous 95% wholesale tax on vapor products not been in effect. If scaled to a national level, this taxation may prevent over 2 million smokers from quitting over the next decade.
While their study largely vindicates vaping and validates its value as an effective smoking cessation aid and reduced harm alternative to tobacco, the authors do note the balance lawmakers must strike in protecting public health and reducing youth access to vapor products. “This needs to be balanced against the goal of reducing vaping and nicotine use among youth,” the authors stated. “The public health benefits of not taxing e-cigarettes must be weighed against the effects of this decision on efforts to reduce vaping by youth.”
Public health scholars, harm reduction experts, and tobacco control professionals, all have repeatedly warned against restrictive policies and excessively regulating vapor products. They note that the public health benefits provided by these products vastly outweigh any potential, and possibly overblown, concerns over youth access to vapor products.
In an article published in the journal Science, a group of renowned public health experts came together to speak out against prohibitive policies targeting vaping. They note a lack of evidence of risk from vaping, especially when weighed against the proven consequences of smoking, as well as the potential for these policies to drive former smokers back to tobacco and prevent current smokers from quitting.
Despite repeated outcries to prevent teenage vaping, researchers from NYU School of Global Public Health found that most teens do not vape, and the few that do are not habitual users. The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found that over 85% of teens do not vape at all, and among the few that do, the majority are not daily users.
Regardless of the misinformation surrounding vaping, study after study continues to highlight its efficacy in aiding smoking cessation. For example, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was far more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies is not only helping people quit smoking, but remain tobacco-free.
The National Bureau of Economic Research’s study affirms concerns long-leveled by public health scholars, harm reduction experts, and tobacco control professionals about prohibitive and excessive regulations targeting vaping. These groups note that the public health benefits provided by vaping vastly outweigh any perceived concerns.
Yet, almost in spite of this, lawmakers remain hellbent on a systemic onslaught against vapor products and the underlying industry itself. States and municipalities throughout the United States continue to impose such unwarranted regulations despite the current scientific consensus surrounding vaping.
Members of the vaping industry and community must engage in a campaign of sustained civic engagement and informative public discourse to help inform lawmakers and the general public about the benefits that vaping provides them and may provide for millions of others as well. The one-sided fear-based narrative perpetuated by the mainstream media threatens the very future of not only the vaping industry but vaping itself.
What are your thoughts regarding the National Bureau of Economic Research’s study? Do you believe their conclusions will impact policy-making moving forward? We would love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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