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This week, Americans for Tax Reform submitted written testimony and testified live to the Connecticut Assembly’s Joint Public Health Committee in opposition to HB 6488, legislation that would ban flavored vaping products in the state. ATR’s testimony highlighted the negative public health consequences that come from flavor bans, as well as the economic devastation that banning an entire section of a state’s economy can bring.

“Vaping is shown to be 95% less harmful than combustible cigarettes and flavored vapes are crucial for adults trying to quit smoking with vaping,” said Tim Andrews, ATR’s Director of Consumer Issues and the author of the testimony. “This flavor ban would prevent adults in Connecticut from quitting smoking with reduced-risk alternatives to tobacco. Flavors matter to adults and HB 6488 would deprive them of these lifesaving tools. Connecticut’s General Assembly must look to the facts, evidence, and science, not just anecdotes and emotional pleas.”

“Studies have repeatedly shown that flavors, which HB 6488 would prohibit, 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 unflavored products. HB 6488 goes directly against all currently available data on these reduced-risk alternatives to tobacco.

“Flavor bans are shown to lead to increased youth smoking. A study from Yale University’s Dr. Abigail Friedman found that after the city of San Francisco imposed a flavor ban in 2018, the odds of youth in the city smoking cigarettes more than doubled. There is no evidence that flavors impact youth uptake of vaping, as kids are shown to have the same willingness to try plain versus flavored vaping products.

“HB 6488 also seeks to ban flavored cigars, a policy with no evidence whatsoever that it have any effect in reducing smoking rates. Real world evidence from Massachusetts, however, where a ban on all flavored tobacco products was enacted in 2020, demonstrates that such bans are counterproductive and come at significant cost. Due to tobacco smuggling and cross-border purchases, this policy failure is costing Massachusetts more than $10 million each month in excise tax revenue while smoking rates have actually increased.

“This really gets down to an important fundamental question,” Andrews said while testifying orally to committee members. “Does Connecticut support prohibition or does Connecticut support harm reduction. Harm reduction works. Prohibition doesn’t.”

Click below to see Andrews’ full in-person testimony to the Connecticut General Assembly Joint Public Health Committee.

ATR’s full written testimony can be read here.