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Arguments Against Taxing Vaping

Arguments Against Taxing Vaping: Calls to not impose punitive taxes on vaping ring true

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Under the auspice of protecting the public health, legislators like the argument that taxing a product decreases its appeal. They say that the tax on smoking contributed in part to the decline in the number of smokers. They also believe that it will prevent young people from taking up vaping. We welcome some of the recent comments made on this topic in the media.

“We don't know all the answers, but we do know that smokers urgently need (and want) to quit smoking. The policy challenge for FDA is to have the wisdom to put in place the rules and regulations that will achieve the greatest population health benefit and result in the beginning of the end of smoking as we know it,” states Michael Eriksen, professor and dean at Georgia State University.

In his original piece for The Conversation he argued that vaping ought to be marketed as a tool to quit smoking as “while vaping is not risk-free, nearly everyone agrees that e-cigarettes are almost certainly better than smoking.” And yet it appears that many seek to use the popularity of electronic cigarettes (and the cloak of public health) to do nothing other than line their coffers.

Cynthia Cabrera, president of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, was recently allowed to address the issue of taxation in the Sacramento Bee. POTV is very familiar with the anti-vaping stance adopted by the Californian publication so it is astounding they have given her column inches.

“Taxing ecigarettes will backfire on public health,” she writes. “The end result will only lead adults back to smoking cigarettes or force them to purchase products out of state or on the black market.” Pulling no punches, she slams the arguments for taxation as being put forward by academics that have been “disingenuous” and “unscientific”. Cabrera also highlights the hypocrisy of levying taxes in the name of public health and yet only using 4.3% of that revenue on prevention and cessation programs.

This appears to matter little to Indiana public health officials who claim: “Studies have shown that every 10 percent increase in the price of tobacco reduces youth smoking by about 7 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent.” Although their argument is centred around calling for higher taxes on traditional tobacco products it is identical to the calls being made to implement a tax on vaping. It is a case that Marni Soupcoff, executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, rejects.

“They’re desperate,” says Soupcoff. “This is why they’re falling back on ever more heavy-handed interventions. Instead of looking for creative ways to help people quit smoking or find methods to minimize smoking’s harm, the public health establishment is seeking to make smoking highly impractical and difficult, if not impossible.”

She contends that anybody prepared to pay the current price for a packet of cigarettes is not going to be put off smoking by further punitive measures. “The race to ban more and tax more ... isn’t just ineffective, it’s getting in the way of voluntary entrepreneurial products that could be doing massive good.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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