Tim Andrews

Sen. Durbin’s Plan To Tax The Poor – And Keep Them Smoking

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Friday, May 7th, 2021, 9:46 AM PERMALINK

Most attention in the tobacco and harm reduction space this last week was focussed on a proposal by the FDA to bring back the failed policies of the past and introduce prohibition for menthol cigarettes, a move opposed by a bipartisan coalition of over 50 organizations from all sides of the political spectrum, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Rev Al Sharpton, Americans for Tax Reform, and Heritage Action. Given how this proposal would do nothing to reduce smoking rates, but instead criminalizing a product used by over 18 million Americans, primarily from minority communities, create dangerous confrontations between minorities and law enforcement, set back criminal justice reform, create a windfall for international criminal syndicates, and hurt state government windfall, this is understandable. 

Sadly, however, this was not the only bad proposal coming from Democrats recently in this field.  Not content with proposing to punish Americans saving for retirement with crippling capital gains taxes on their nest eggs, or reducing worker salaries through hiking the corporate tax, late last week Senator Durbin & congressional democrats unveiled plans to introduce one of the most regressive tax hikes on poorest Americans in living memory. In clear violation of President Biden’s unequivocal promise to not raise taxes on Americans earning under $400,000, if this bill was to pass, poorer Americans unable to quit smoking would be slugged with a doubling of the federal tobacco tax. To make matters worse, in an even more cynical grab for cash, the plan would also impose crippling new taxes on the most effective quitting aids on the market, forcing people to continue smoking to help feed Congress’s addiction to taxpayer cash.

With 72% of smokers coming from low-income communities, the burden of tobacco taxation already falls heavily on those who can least afford it. More than a quarter of Americans living below the poverty line smoke, and when combined with state and local taxes, pack-a-day minimum wage workers could be spending over half their annual salary on their habit.

Empirical data demonstrates that cigarette taxes no longer having any impact upon smoking rates, the outcomes are tragic. Either families cut back and struggle to put food on the table, or they turn to the black market, purchasing illicit low-cost tobacco. This black market trade, already accounting for more than 50% of all tobacco sales in cities like New York, not only deprives federal and state governments of revenue, but is a major source of funding for international criminal syndicates, which, according to the State Department, are becoming dominated by terrorist organizations to the extent it now represent a serious “threat to national security”. 

Rather than propose a tax that would do nothing to reduce smoking rates, but would hurt low-income earners, reduce state government revenue, and enrich criminal syndicates, Sen. Durbin should instead seek to follow the science, and heed the advice of over 40 of the world’s leading medical organizations. By delivering nicotine, itself a benign, albeit highly addictive, substance similar to caffeine, without the thousands of deadly chemical created by the combustion process of “burning” cigarettes,  innovative new technologies have helped smokers around the world quit in record numbers.

The evidence is clear that vapor products have been proven to be 95% safer than combustible cigarettes, at least twice as effective at helping smokers quit than traditional nicotine replacement therapies, and with a 92.5% success rate at reducing or eliminating smoking rates amongst people suffering from mental health issues, who presently smoke at three times the general population rate. According to Georgetown University Medical Center, if a majority of American smokers switched to vaping,  6.6 million lives would be saved. 

Rather than helping smokers quit, however, Sen. Durbin bizarrely instead proposes to keep smokers hooked to their deadly habit, by making these life-saving products unaffordable with a slew of new taxes. These proposals include not only staggering new taxes on vapor products, but a two thousand fold increase in the tax on other reduced risk products. This includes on those that the Food & Drug Administration authorizers manufacturers to market as one that would “reduce your risk of cancer”. According to modeling undertaken by the National Bureau of Economic Research, were Sen. Durbin’s proposal enacted, it would prevent a staggering 2.75 million people from quitting smoking. 

With fewer than 5% of young Americans smoking, the priority of Federal lawmakers must now be how to help adult smokers quit. Sadly, in their desperate grab for cash to pay for chronic overspending, Sen. Durbin and his allies would seem to prefer smokers continue smoking -  and die as a result. The time has come for President Biden to show leadership, reiterate his pre-election promise, and pledge to fight against this immoral bill. Millions of lives depend on it.

Photo Credit: Adam Fagen

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Three Wins For Consumers & Businesses Over Unaccountable Bureaucrats

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Friday, April 30th, 2021, 5:07 PM PERMALINK

Late yesterday, Tennessee lawmakers passed vital consumer protection legislation that would safeguard consumers and businesses from misinformed and unaccountable local government bureaucrats banning life-saving reduced risk tobacco alternatives. This marked the passage of the third such bill in the last week, as Florida and Montana lawmakers similarly took steps to safeguard their citizens from threats arising from local governments.

Recent months have seen a concerted effect by numerous local governments to take advantage of their relative lack of transparency and scrutiny to effectively ban the sale of e-cigarettes. This is despite these products being proven to be 95% safer than combustible cigarettes, more than twice as effective as any other nicotine replacement therapy, and endorsed by over 40 of the world’s leading medical bodies as an effective quit smoking tool. According to Georgetown University Medical Center, e-cigarettes have the potential to save 6.6 million American lives over the next decade.

When local government bureaucrats ignore the science and place their own ideological agenda above the interests of their citizens, it is imperative that state governments step in to protect their citizens. Were these bills not passed, dozens of businesses would have been forced to shut down, hundreds of jobs would have been lost, state governments would have lost significant excise revenue to the black market, and tens of thousands of people who quit smoking would have potentially taken up the deadly habit.

Missouri, Idaho, South Carolina, and Arizona lawmakers are expected to face similar votes in the coming weeks, and in the interests of public health and good government, it is imperative they do so.

Photo Credit: Owen Byrne

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Alabama’s HB 273 Will Limit Competition and Innovation While Harming Public Health

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Thursday, April 22nd, 2021, 3:42 PM PERMALINK

This week, Americans for Tax Reform wrote to Senators in Alabama serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee, imploring them to reject HB 273, legislation that would restrict adult access to lifesaving reduced harm tobacco alternatives like e-cigarettes, proven to be 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes. 

ATR’s Director of Consumer Issues, Tim Andrews, wrote, “this anti-science proposal would have a disastrous impact upon not only businesses, but public health throughout the state, and lead to an increase in tobacco-related mortality.” 

Andrews noted that certain provisions in the bill 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.” 

Andrews also urged the Senators to consider effects this bill would have on state revenue, writing that “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.”  

Andrews asserted that HB 273 would lead to a boon in criminal activity, noting, “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".

The full letter can be read here

Photo Credit: James Willamor

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Missouri's Chance To Protect Businesses & Consumers From Rapacious Local Governments

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021, 1:51 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform submitted written testimony today for a hearing on Missouri’s House Bill 517 in the House Committee on Downsizing State Government.  

HB 517 is a pro-taxpayer reform that will protect Missouri’s businesses and consumers from damaging regulations imposed by local governments on reduced harm tobacco alternatives. ATR urged lawmakers to support the legislation in the interests of safeguarding Missouri’s public health and state economy. 

Tim Andrews, ATR’s Director of Consumer Issues, wrote “It is simply good governance that matters of this magnitude be decided at the state level, due to both the level of increased scrutiny, transparency and accountability it provides, but also the direct impact it has on state tax revenue should a product be banned.” 

Andrews also urged legislators to consider the impact that HB 517 would have on state revenues, noting “State budgets would also be negatively affected through the forgoing of tax revenue from state income taxes caused by a burgeoning black market, caused by the smuggling of illicit products between different jurisdictions and sold without appropriate state taxes being paid.  As such, protecting citizens from these policies is not only the moral thing to do, but also in the direct interest of lawmakers in Jefferson City.” 

Andrews noted the importance of protecting the freedom of Missourians, writing “It is important to note that, contrary to some arguments made by opponents of this bill, “local control” at its core is about safeguarding individual liberties and restricting the growth of government; it is not a free pass for cities to do whatever they want. Localities are just as capable of being conduits for heavy-handed laws that will harm citizens. When that is at stake, state action is not only appropriate to safeguard individual freedoms – it is essential.” 

Andrews concluded by stressing the benefits that HB 517 will have on public heath, stating that “Vapor products would save nearly 125,000 lives if a majority of Missouri smokers made the switch to vaping, extrapolating from a large-scale analysis performed by leading cancer researchers and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Centre. HB 517 will have a tremendous impact on public health and would decrease socioeconomic disparities significantly as it will prevent localities from prohibiting life-saving treatment.” 

The full testimony can be read here

Photo Credit: Daniel Schwen

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Illinois Lawmakers' Push To Restrict E-Cigarette Access Would Have Devastating Impact

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Wednesday, March 31st, 2021, 3:15 PM PERMALINK

Earlier this week, Americans for Tax Reform's Director of Consumer Issues, Tim Andrews, wrote to members of the Illinois House and Senate, urging them to vote against legislative proposals that would harm public health throughout Illinois as well as damage Illinois' economy. The full letter can be read below. 
 

To: Members of the Illinois Legislature 
From: Americans for Tax Reform 

Dear Legislator,  

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Illinois, I urge you to reject SB 3699, SB 2275, SB 0540, SB 0699, SB 2282, HB 4050, HB 2579, HB 3887, and HB 3883. Each of these bills will decrease adult access to lifesaving reduced risk tobacco alternatives like e-cigarettes and vapor products. If passed, these acts of legislation would lead to a clear increase in tobacco-related mortality in the state of Illinois by forcing more adults to keep smoking – and dying from – dangerous traditional combustible cigarettes. 

About E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products: 

  • Traditional combustible tobacco remains one of the leading preventable causes of death in Illinois. 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. Flavors would be prohibited under HB 3883, HB 3887, SB 2275, HB 4050, SB 0699, and SB 2282, 

  • Evidence demonstrates that flavors also 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 National Youth Tobacco Survey results have shown no increase in nicotine dependency among youths since flavored products entered the market. 

  • 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. Passing any of the aforementioned bills would fail to decrease inequalities in health and would widen further the socioeconomic disparities that disadvantaged communities face. 

  • Vapor products would save over 255,000 lives if a majority of Illinois smokers made the switch to vaping, extrapolating from a large-scale analysis performed by leading cancer researchers and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Centre. 

SB 0699, SB 2282, HB 4050, HB 3887, HB 3883, and SB 2275 would each prohibit flavors in vapor products, a proposal that would keep adults smoking deadly combustible cigarettes and would do nothing to prevent youth use of e-cigarettes and vapor products. Flavors have been proven time and again to be critical to the process of smoking cessation among adults and do not appeal to kids any more than unflavored vapor products do. While many proponents of flavor bans believe it would decrease youth use of nicotine products, real world evidence from San Francisco proves otherwise. San Francisco’s ban on flavored vaping products and e-cigarettes had no impact on usage among youths. To the contrary, after nearly a decade of steady decline in youth use of combustible cigarettes, there has been an increase in cigarette smoking among youths in San Francisco since the flavor ban was enacted. 

HB 3883, HB 3887, SB 2275, and SB 0699 would also extend the prohibition on flavors to traditional tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars. These flavor bans would come with significant negative consequences to the state, with no evidence whatsoever that they have any effect on decreasing smoking rates. To the contrary, real-world evidence from Massachusetts demonstrates that flavor bans are counterproductive, and come at a substantial cost.  

Since Massachusetts implemented a ban on all flavored tobacco products in the middle of 2020, border purchases and a booming black market have more than made up a decline in sales in the commonwealth. In the first few months since the ban was enacted, Massachusetts retailers have sold 17.7 million fewer cigarette packets compared to the same period last year, while neighboring Rhode Island and New Hampshire have combined to sell 18.9 million more as Massachusetts residents stock up across state lines. This has cost the state a staggering $73,000,000 in revenue. 

Rhode Island and New Hampshire are not the only beneficiaries of Massachusetts’s ban; criminal syndicates have also greatly benefited. Contrary to popular belief that tobacco smuggling is a victimless crime consisting of someone purchasing extra cartons across state lines, most tobacco smuggling, in reality, is run by multi-million-dollar organized crime syndicates. These networks also engage in human trafficking, money laundering, and funnel funds to terrorists. This is why the US State Department has explicitly called tobacco smuggling a “threat to national security”

Paradoxically, these bans will likely increase youth access to tobacco products in Illinois as, by definition, criminals and smugglers do not obey laws and would not follow the rigorous age-verification requirements mandated at reputable outlets. 

In addition to lost revenue, financing of criminal activities, and a potential uptick in youth tobacco use, another adverse effect of banning flavors is the disproportionate harm it will inflict on minority populations. Approximately 80% of African-Americans and 35% of Hispanics who smoke prefer menthol cigarettes and black adults consume 60% of all cigarillos and non-premium cigars, products that are often flavored. For this reason, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) opposes flavor bans as they “disproportionately impact people and communities of color”. Specifically criminalizing these products would directly lead to significant setbacks to the pursuit of racial equality and criminal justice reform. 

SB 3699 would place an arbitrary limit on the number of e-cigarettes that can be purchased in one transaction, limiting customers to two e-cigarettes or 100mL of e-liquid. This measure would severely decrease revenue for countless small businesses across your state and greatly inconvenience consumers in remote communities who may need to travel long distances to purchase their preferred product. 

HB 2579 would set a maximum nicotine concentration of 25 mg/mL in vaping products. There is no existing evidence that an arbitrary limit on the strength of nicotine vapor products would benefit public health, however, evidence does exist that demonstrates it would cause harm. Imposing a nicotine cap would limit the effectiveness of vapor products for heavy smokers who require high-strength nicotine products to quit smoking. Limiting their ability to purchase these products would further disincentivize smokers from making the switch.  

In April of 2020, Nova Scotia instituted a 20mg/mL nicotine cap, alongside a flavor ban, which caused the closure of 50% of all specialty vape stores in the province. Further, regulated cigarette sales increased by 25%, clear evidence that nicotine caps drive vapers back to higher risk, combustible cigarettes. Further, a recent study demonstrated that high-strength nicotine e-cigarettes, which would be banned under HB 2579, dramatically help smokers with mental health issues, like schizophrenia, quit the deadly habit of cigarettes. People who suffer from schizophrenia smoke at a rate more than three times the general population, further illustrating the importance of keeping high-strength nicotine products available to adult consumers. 

SB 0540 would expose Illinois businesses and consumers to harmful taxes and regulations imposed by local governments on reduced risk tobacco alternatives. SB 0540 would also fail to retain regulatory consistency and uniformity throughout the state in terms of tobacco policy which will leave residents unprotected from poorly thought-out local restrictions, or tax grabs to raise further revenue from some of your most vulnerable constituents. 

For the reasons above, in the interests of public health, preventing a sharp rise in criminal activity, defending minority populations, and protecting the Illinois economy, we urge you to reject SB 3699, SB 2275, SB 0540, SB 0699, SB 2282, HB 4050, HB 2579, HB 3887, and HB 3883. Hundreds of thousands of lives quite literally depend on it. 

Sincerely, 

Tim Andrews 

Director of Consumer Issues 
Americans for Tax Reform 

Photo Credit: Carol Highsmith

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USPS Must Get E-Cigarette Rulemaking Right To Save Lives

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Thursday, March 25th, 2021, 5:16 PM PERMALINK

Earlier this week, Americans for Tax Reform submitted comments to the United States Postal Service  on the importance of helping smokers trying to quit through life saving reduced risk tobacco alternatives. As we have  written previously, the most vulnerable Americans with the highest smoking rates live in rural and remote areas, and without access to lifesaving tobacco alternatives through the mail, they would have no choice other than continue smoking deadly combustible tobacco.

 

ATR stressed that any rulemaking designed to implement the mandates of the ill thought out recently passed federal ban on on USPS carrying these products should be as precise as possible, and clarify the exemptions that were intended to be included as part of the Act. 

 

 The full testimony can be downloaded here

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Washington House Proposal Would Increase Tobacco Taxes by 1000%, Penalize People for Quitting Smoking, and Kill Businesses

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021, 12:52 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) today submitted testimony in opposition to Washington’s HB 1550, legislation that would increase the Business & Operating tax on tobacco businesses by a jaw-dropping 1000%. HB 1550 would also increase taxes on lifesaving reduced risk tobacco alternatives like e-cigarettes and vapor products which would keep adults smoking – and dying from – traditional combustible cigarettes. 

ATR State Affairs Manager, Ben Rajadurai, wrote: “If enacted, this bill would have a disastrous impact upon not only business in the state of Washington, but public health as well.” 

Rajadurai noted that, “Over 40% of cigarettes consumed in 2018 were purchased through cross-border shopping and organized smuggling due to tax rates on tobacco that are already remarkably high in Washington. Contrary to popular belief that tobacco smuggling a victimless crime consisting of someone purchasing a few extra cartons across state lines, 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”. 

Rajadurai noted the growing body of research illustrating the effectiveness of vapor products as a harm reduction tool for adults looking to quit smoking which is 95% safer than traditional combustible tobacco. Extrapolating from an analysis conducted by Georgetown University Medical Center, over 150,000 lives would be saved if a majority of Washington smokers were to make the switch to vaping,  

Rajadurai concluded: “HB 1550 would tax e-cigarettes and vapor products at such a high rate that it would drive people to more deadly alternatives like traditional combustible cigarettes. This goes against every principle of sound public health policy. Minnesota is serving as a case study on this already. After the state imposed a tax on vaping products, it was determined that it prevented 32,400 additional adult smokers from quitting smoking. A small increase in revenue should never come at the host of human lives.” 

The full testimony can be read here

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Oregon's HB 2261 Would Abandon Rural Communities, Increase Tobacco-Related Deaths

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Monday, March 22nd, 2021, 2:07 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform submitted testimony today, urging legislators in Oregon to oppose HB 2261. This proposal would reduce access to life-saving reduced risk tobacco alternatives like e-cigarettes and vapor products by prohibiting online and remote sales. A ban on such sales would be particularly harmful because those in rural communities are often in lower socioeconomic demographics and are therefore at the highest risk of tobacco related mortality.  

HB 2261 would keep these adults smoking – and dying from – traditional cigarettes and in the interest of public health this proposal must be rejected. The full testimony can be read below. 
 

To: Members of the Oregon House
From: Americans for Tax Reform 

Dear Representative, 

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Oregon, I urge you to oppose HB 2261, harmful legislation that would restrict access to lifesaving reduced harm tobacco products like electronic cigarettes and keep people smoking – and dying from – traditional combustible cigarettes. If enacted, this anti-science bill would have a disastrous impact upon not only businesses, but also on public health throughout the state, and lead to an increase in tobacco-related deaths. 

We would also like to draw the committee’s attention to the fact that HB 2261, which includes a prohibition on online or remote sales, would significantly reduce access to these life-saving products, and particularly harm smokers trying to quit who reside in rural and remote areas of the state. If enacted, these persons, often in lower socioeconomic demographics and at the highest risk of smoking related mortality, would have no choice but to continue smoking – and dying from - combustible tobacco. 

About E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products: 

  • Traditional combustible tobacco remains one of the leading preventable causes of death in Oregon. 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: 

  • 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 week, 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, which HB 2261 would restrict access to, 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. HB 2261 will have a tremendously negative impact on public health and would increase socioeconomic disparities significantly

  • 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 over 85,000 lives if a majority of Oregon smokers made the switch to vaping, extrapolating from a large-scale analysis performed by leading cancer researchers and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Centre.

In the interests of public health, we call upon the committee to accept the science and vote against HB 2261. Tens of thousands of lives quite literally depend on it. 

Sincerely, 

Tim Andrews 

Director of Consumer Issues 
Americans for Tax Reform 

Photo Credit: Daniel Eynis

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Idaho's S 1087 Would Protect Businesses, Improve Public Health

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Friday, March 19th, 2021, 12:32 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform wrote to Idaho legislators this week, urging them to vote in favor of S 1087, legislation that would protect Idaho businesses and consumers from harmful taxes and regulations by retaining regulatory consistency across the state regarding tobacco policy. The full letter can be read below.

To: Members of the Idaho House 
From: Americans for Tax Reform 

Dear Representative, 

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Idaho, I urge you to support S 1087, a pro-taxpayer reform that would protect Idaho businesses and consumers from harmful taxes and regulations imposed by local governments on reduced risk tobacco alterantives. Retaining regulatory consistency and uniformity throughout the state in terms of tobacco policy will safeguard Idaho residents from poorly thought-out local restrictions, or tax grabs to raise further revenue from some of your most vulnerable constituents. 

The pre-emption provisions included in S 1087 are vital to protect both public health and the economy of Idaho. It is the fundamental responsibility of state governments to protect their citizens. At times, these threats can come from local government officials. In the instance of tobacco harm reduction policies, local government officials, acting without the degree of scrutiny and accountability found at the state level, may impose punitive taxes on the most vulnerable in their communities without thinking of the hardship this may cause for both employers and consumers. Similarly, lacking the expertise in healthcare policy, such local restrictions and levies may act contrary to all available science and data, serving to restrict the ability of smokers to quit smoking with the help of reduced risk tobacco alternatives.  

Even if imposed at a city or county level, these regulations would have the capability to negatively impact the entire state. For instance, increasing taxes would lead to an increase in smuggling and the sale of illicit products, adversely affecting state tax collections while increasing criminal activity. Restricting the use of electronic cigarettes, proven 95% safer than traditional combustible tobacco and twice as effective as more traditional nicotine replacement therapies, would lead to further strains on the state budget due to the healthcare costs incurred by people prevented from using them to quit smoking.  

S 1087 would also prevent localities from enacting highly regressive taxes on cigarettes. Data from the National Adult Tobacco Surveys has consistently demonstrated that tobacco tax increases have no statistically significant impact on the prevalence of smoking among those with household incomes of less than $25,000. Seventy-two percent of smokers are from low-income communities, and to increase taxes on people unable to quit as they are struggling with the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic will put unnecessary hardship upon families who are already struggling to make ends meet. 

State budgets would also be negatively affected through the forgoing of tax revenue through state income taxes caused by a burgeoning black market that would be caused through the smuggling of illicit products between different jurisdictions and sold without appropriate state taxes being paid.  As such, protecting citizens from these policies is not only the moral thing to do, but also in the direct interest of lawmakers in Boise.   

It is important to note that, contrary to some arguments made by opponents of this bill, “local control” at its core is about safeguarding individual liberties and restricting the growth of government; it is not a free pass for cities to do whatever they want. Localities are just as capable of being conduits for heavy-handed laws that will harm citizens. When that is at stake, state action is not only appropriate to safeguard individual freedoms – it is essential.  

About E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products: 

  • Traditional combustible tobacco remains one of the leading preventable causes of death in Idaho. 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 week, 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, which S 1087 would stop localities from banning, 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. S 1087 will have a tremendous impact on public health and would decrease socioeconomic disparities significantly. 
     

  • 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 over 36,000 lives if a majority of Idaho smokers made the switch to vaping, extrapolating from a large-scale analysis performed by leading cancer researchers and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Centre. 

S 1087 would protect consumers and businesses across Idaho, ensure state tax collections are not depressed by misguided local taxes and regulations, and would prevent a patchwork of ordinances that would make Idaho a more expensive place to do business, all while also damaging public health. Americans for Tax Reform believes it is imperative for state lawmakers to use their power to safeguard their constituents from harmful policies. As such, I urge you to support and vote in favor of S 1087. 
 

Sincerely, 


Tim Andrews 

Director of Consumer Issues 
Americans for Tax Reform 

Photo Credit: Charles Knowles

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Montana's HB 137 Would Protect Residents From Unaccountable Local Bureaucrats Destroying Businesses

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021, 1:19 PM PERMALINK

Earlier today, Americans for Tax Reform testified in front of Montana's Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee in support of HB 137, introduced by Taxpayer Protection Pledge signer Representative Ron Marshall. This legislation that would safeguard Montana residents from tax grabs and poorly thought-out regulations on lifesaving reduced risk tobacco alternatives.  Prior to the hearing, ATR Director of Consumer Issues Tim Andrews submitted written testimony to the committee. The full testimony can be read below.

Dear Senator, 

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Montana, I urge you to support House Bill 137, a pro-taxpayer reform that would protect Montana businesses and consumers from harmful taxes and regulations imposed by local governments on reduced risk tobacco alternatives. Retaining regulatory consistency and uniformity throughout the state in terms of tobacco policy will safeguard Montana residents from poorly thought-out local restrictions, or tax grabs to raise further revenue from some of your most vulnerable constituents. We further note that we fully support a proposed technical amendment to ensure the original intent of the bill is preserved, in that it adds to Montana’s existing preemption provisions, and does not merely replace them. 

The pre-emption provisions included in HB 137 are vital to protect both public health and the economy of Montana. It is the fundamental responsibility of state governments to protect their citizens. At times, these threats can come from local government officials. In the instance of tobacco harm reduction policies, local government officials, acting without the degree of scrutiny and accountability found at the state level, may impose punitive taxes on the most vulnerable in their communities without thinking of the hardship this may cause for both employers and consumers. Similarly, lacking the expertise in healthcare policy, such local restrictions and levies may act contrary to all available science and data, serving to restrict the ability of smokers to quit smoking with the help of reduced risk tobacco alternatives.  

Even if imposed at a city or county level, these regulations would have the capability to negatively impact the entire state. For instance, increasing taxes would lead to an increase in smuggling and the sale of illicit products, adversely affecting state tax collections while increasing criminal activity. Restricting the use of electronic cigarettes, proven 95% safer than traditional combustible tobacco and twice as effective as more traditional nicotine replacement therapies, would lead to further strains on the state budget due to the healthcare costs incurred by people prevented from using them to quit smoking.  

State budgets would also be negatively affected through the forgoing of tax revenue through state income taxes caused by a burgeoning black market that would be caused through the smuggling of illicit products between different jurisdictions and sold without appropriate state taxes being paid.  As such, protecting citizens from these policies is not only the moral thing to do, but also in the direct interest of lawmakers in Helena.   

It is important to note that, contrary to some arguments made by opponents of this bill, “local control” at its core is about safeguarding individual liberties and restricting the growth of government; it is not a free pass for cities to do whatever they want. Localities are just as capable of being conduits for heavy-handed laws that will harm citizens. When that is at stake, state action is not only appropriate to safeguard individual freedoms – it is essential.

About E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products: 

  • Traditional combustible tobacco remains one of the leading preventable causes of death in Montana. 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 week, 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, which HB 137 would stop localities from banning, 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. HB 137 will have a tremendous impact on public health and would decrease socioeconomic disparities significantly. 
     

  • 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 over 27,000 lives if a majority of Montana smokers made the switch to vaping, extrapolating from a large-scale analysis performed by leading cancer researchers and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Centre. 
     

HB 137 - once amended -  would protect consumers and business across Montana, ensure state tax collections are not depressed by misguided local taxes and regulations, and would prevent a patchwork of ordinances that would make Montana a more expensive place to do business, all while also damaging public health. Americans for Tax Reform believes it is imperative for state lawmakers to use their power to safeguard their constituents from harmful policies. As such, I urge you to support and vote in favor of HB 137. 

Sincerely, 

Tim Andrews 

Director of Consumer Issues 
Americans for Tax Reform 

Photo Credit: GillFoto

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