Passing Rhode Island’s H 5548 is a Public Health Imperative

March 8, 2021 

From: Americans for Tax Reform 

To: Rhode Island House Health and Human Services Committee 

Dear Representative, 

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a non-profit organization which advocates in the interests of taxpayers and consumers throughout the United States, I urge you to support H 5548, beneficial legislation which seeks to enact common-sense regulations on life-saving reduced risk tobacco alternatives such as electronic cigarettes.  

Flavors in vapor products, which would be allowed under H 5548, have been proven critical to the process of helping adults quit smoking. The evidence clearly demonstrates that if enacted, this bill would have a positive impact upon public health throughout the State, and lead to a clear decrease in tobacco-related deaths. 

About E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products: 

  • Traditional combustible tobacco remains one of the leading preventable causes of death in Rhode Island. 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 H 5548 allows for, 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. H 5548 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 dependenacy among youths since flavored products entered the market. 
  • Vapor products would save over 26,000 lives if a majority of Rhode Island 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 and decreasing socioeconomic inequalities, we call upon the Committee to accept the science and vote for H 5548. Tens of thousands of your constituents lives quite literally depend on it. 


Tim Andrews 
Director of Consumer Issues