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Tax smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes at lower rates



Published: Sun, March 30, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Gov. John Kasich’s plan to increase taxes on all tobacco products is bad tax policy, built on an unscientific, unsuccessful anti-smoker strategy: Quit or die.

Only one component of the governor’s plan makes sense — increasing the cigarette excise tax. Economic studies show that a 10 percent increase in cigarette price leads to a 1 to 7 percent reduction in smoking rates and a 1 to 3 percent reduction in cigarette consumption. However, while some smokers will quit or cut back, many others will persist.

We recommend an option that is fiscally responsible and that could save lives: Raise cigarette excise taxes, but keep those on smoke-free tobacco products (smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes) proportionately low and commensurate with their vastly lower health risks.

Research shows that higher cigarette taxes cause smokers to adopt less expensive tobacco products. Smoke-free tobacco products are effective cigarette substitutes because they deliver satisfying doses of nicotine. Nicotine, one of the most intensively studied drugs in history, is addictive but does not cause any smoking-related disease. Its safety profile is comparable to that of another addictive substance, caffeine.

Decades of studies reveal that smokeless tobacco use is at least 98 percent less hazardous than smoking. Unlike cigarettes, smokeless does not cause lung cancer, heart disease or emphysema. In fact, lifelong smokeless users have about the same risk of dying from that habit as automobile users have of dying in a car wreck. Although e-cigarettes have been on the market only for several years, tobacco research and policy experts agree that these products confer about the same health risk as smokeless tobacco.

The Royal College, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical societies, concluded “... that smokers smoke predominantly for nicotine, that nicotine itself is not especially hazardous, and that if nicotine could be provided in a form that is acceptable and effective as a cigarette substitute, millions of lives could be saved.”

Cigarettes confer high health risks and should be taxed at high rates, while smoke-free tobacco products have minimal health risks and deserve far lower taxes.

In 2005, Kentucky became the first state to use risk as a benchmark for different tobacco excise taxes. This rational tax policy would allow Buckeye State lawmakers to demonstrate fiscal responsibility while fulfilling their moral obligation to help inveterate smokers lead longer and healthier lives.

Brad Rodu Nantapron Plurphanswat, Louisville, Ky.

Rodu is a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville and Plurphanswat is a research economist at the Brown Cancer Center in Louisville.


Comments

1billdog1(941 comments)posted 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Raising the tax on tobacco products IS the result of smokers quitting. As more people quit, the state and fed need to raise the tax to make up the difference. It isn't that they want people to quit, it's that they spend money like a drunkin hoe with a crack habit.

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276Ytown(1208 comments)posted 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Great article!

Most lifelong smokers have been unsuccessful in quitting the traditional ways. The addiction to nicotine is very powerful. Everyone I know that has tried e-cigs has been able to throw away analog cigarettes on day one and reduce their nicotine habit from there on. There are 2 addictions associated with cigarettes, physical and psychological. The amount of nicotine in e-cigs can be controlled and reduced over time and the physical addiction can be supported by having the e-cig in their hand. E-cigs offer smokers an alternative without the health risks.

The taxes on cigarettes are used to promote/fund programs that help children and health and stop smoking programs. Ohio has one of the highest percentage of smokers which is also tied to income level. Higher tax as a deterrent to smoking can't be all that bad but e-cigs should carry a lower tax. The tobacco industry is anxious about the loss of customers and in fact has ventured into the e-cig market and for good reason, people are quitting cigarettes once they try e-cigs.

* Nearly 1 in 5 adults (45.3 million) smokes.
* Smokers are smoking less. Among adult daily smokers, the percentage who smoke 30 or more cigarettes per day dropped from 13% in 2005 to 8% in 2010.
* Half of adults who continue to smoke will die from smoking-related causes.
http://www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/AdultSm...

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