Hawaii State Capitol.jpg by Sullynyflhi is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Today, Americans for Tax Reform submitted testimony to the Hawaii State House of Representatives on House Bill 1570, a measure which if enacted would ban flavored tobacco and vapor products. 

The bill hopes to fight a “youth vaping epidemic.” ATR Consumer Affairs Director Tim Andrews wrote in commentary “No evidence of such an epidemic exists. Youth smoking and vaping rates are the lowest in recorded history. Hawaii legislators seek to fight an illusion.” 

He expanded on this claim. “In every instance where tighter regulations on electronic cigarettes are implemented, youth smoking rates increase. When Massachusetts and Los Angeles tried the exact same thing, all they accomplished was getting kids to ditch their Juuls for Marlboro Reds.” He also noted the effects on adult users, stating, Adults who use flavored vapor products are 43% more likely to quit smoking than an adult who uses un-flavored products. One cannot not ignore how instrumental these products are for helping adults quit smoking. Flavored e-cigarettes encourage them to make a switch which could save their very lives.” 

This was said in reference to studies which have proven the efficacy of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation and that they provide vastly reduced risk compared to traditional combustible tobacco. Studies have also shown that Los Angeles youth smoking rates doubled after passing a city-wide flavor ban 

He also remarked on the potential for criminal activities created by the bill. “Tobacco smuggling is a major threat to national security, according to the U.S. State Department. Bans like this create thriving black market conditions which can serve as catalysts for human trafficking and money laundering, all while enriching criminal syndicates.” Additionally, he added, “by definition, smugglers will not follow the age requirements which legal sellers are subject to. Banning flavored tobacco prevents the ability of the state to regulate its sale.” 

The letter continues, “these proposals would also have devastating consequences on businesses, at a time when they can afford it least.  It would kill thousands of jobs and would cost business owners their livelihood. Hawaii’s total economic cost would be devastating.” 

Andrews concluded, “the passing of HB 1570 has the potential for far-reaching negative effects. This misguided legislation will not only fail in its purported goal, but deter adult smokers from quitting while increasing criminal activity and endangering businesses across the state of Hawaii.”