April 19, 2021
Members of the Alabama Senate Committee on Judiciary
From: Americans for Tax Reform
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Alabama, I urge you to reject HB 273, misguided legislation which will restrict adult access to lifesaving reduced harm tobacco alternatives like e-cigarettes and vapor products. If enacted, this anti-science provision would have a disastrous impact upon not only businesses, but public health throughout the state, and lead to an increase in tobacco-related mortality.
The $2,000 registration fee for establishments, alongside a $500 annual fee, will prevent entrepreneurial participation, limiting competition and innovation in the industry of reduced harm tobacco alternatives. With decreased competition comes inflated prices, which will keep Alabama cigarette smokers from making the lifesaving switch to e-cigarettes. This runs contrary to every principle of sound public health policy.
Further, restrictions on certain vaping products will undoubtedly promote black markets for smuggled products, resulting in decreased state tax revenues as consumers abandon legal vape shops in search of their favored product. Contrary to popular belief, tobacco smuggling is not a victimless crime consisting of someone purchasing a few extra cartons of cigarettes across state lines. In reality, most tobacco smuggling is run by multi-million-dollar organized crime syndicates. These networks, who also engage in human trafficking & money laundering, have also been used to fund terrorist and the US State Department has explicitly called tobacco smuggling a “threat to national security”.
About E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products:
Traditional combustible tobacco remains one of the leading preventable causes of death in Alabama. The negative health effects of combustible tobacco come from the chemicals produced in the combustion process, not the nicotine. While highly addictive, nicotine is a relatively benign substance like caffeine and nicotine use “does not result in clinically significant short- or long-term harms”.
Nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine patches and gums have helped smokers quit for decades. In recent years, advancements in technology have created a more effective alternative: vapor products and e-cigarettes. These products deliver nicotine through water vapor, mimicking the habitual nature of smoking while removing the deadly carcinogens that exist in traditional cigarettes.
Benefits of E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products:
- Vapor products have been proven to be 95% safer than combustible cigarettes and twice as effective at helping smokers quit than traditional nicotine replacement therapies.
- Vaping has been endorsed by over 30 of the world’s leading public health organizations as safer than smoking and an effective way to help smokers quit.
- Just last month, a new analysis by Public Health England demonstrated just how effective vaping is in helping people quit smoking, noting that in just one year, over 50,000 British smokers, who would have continued smoking otherwise, quit smoking with vaping.
- Studies have repeatedly shown that flavors are critical to helping adult smokers make the switch to vaping. Adults who use flavored vapor products are 43% more likely to quit smoking than an adult who uses un-flavored products, according to a recent study from ten of the world’s top experts in cancer prevention and public health.
- A University of Glasgow study showed that e-cigarettes particularly help disadvantaged persons quit smoking. Another new study demonstrated that high-strength electronic nicotine products are particularly helpful for smokers with mental health issues quit smoking, like people with schizophrenia who smoke at rates more than three times the national average. Some 40% of participants had stopped smoking traditional cigarettes by the end of 12 weeks and researchers observed an overall, sustained 50% reduction in smoking or complete smoking abstinence in 92.5% of participants at the end of 12 weeks. HB 273 will have a tremendously negative impact on public health and would fail to decrease socioeconomic disparities.
- Evidence demonstrates that flavors play no role in youth uptake of vaping. Academic studies have found that teenage non-smokers “willingness to try plain versus flavored varieties did not differ” and a mere 5% of vapers aged 14-23 reported it was flavors that drew them to e-cigarettes. National Youth Tobacco Survey results have shown no increase in nicotine dependency among youths since flavored products entered the market.
- Vapor products would save more than 98,000 lives if a majority of Alabama smokers made the switch to vaping, extrapolating from a large-scale analysis performed by leading cancer researchers and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Centre.
For the reasons outlined above, in the interests of public health, preventing a boon in criminal activity, and decreasing socioeconomic disparities in health, we call upon you to accept the science and reject HB 273. Nearly 100,000 lives depend upon it.
Director of Consumer Issues
Americans for Tax Reform