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Indiana House Republicans Push Second Tax Hike in Four Years

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Posted by Doug Kellogg on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021, 7:36 PM PERMALINK

The Indiana State Senate will have to stop the latest tax hike scheme to come out of the Indiana House of Representatives in the past four years.

Last week, the House approved a budget that increases taxes overall, on the back of a tax hike on vape and tobacco products.

Only two Republicans voted no, with a handful not voting. A dozen members who promised their constituents they would not vote to increase taxes, voted to do just that for a second time. Their constituents are likely thinking of the old saying, ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me’.

In 2017, the Indiana legislature approved a significant increase in the state gas tax. This year it is a dangerous tax on vaping, and misguided tax hike on cigarettes.

Increasing taxes on vape products simply means fewer people will switch to vaping from higher risk tobacco products, and small businesses like vape shops will suffer as they try to recover from a pandemic and keep people employed.  

Budget lead Rep. Tim Brown said, “one of the most important things we can do in the state of Indiana to make us a healthier state is to decrease smoking.” In fact, his tax hikes will do the exact opposite.

Reduced-risk tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes that are proven 95% safer than combustible tobacco and twice as effective as more traditional nicotine replacement therapies. It is downright irresponsible to hurt people who are trying to quit smoking.

Cigarettes may look like a soft political target, but increasing taxes on them carries multiple downsides – and there is no upside for health.

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.

They also lead to smuggling. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, tobacco taxes in nearby Michigan and Illinois have resulted in 20% of the market consisting of illicit tobacco.

New revenues would be slated to go to Medicaid, but cigarette taxes are notorious for falling short of revenue promises. Missed revenue means gaps that government is loathe to address by cutting spending – meaning they’ll find other taxes to increase to keep spending levels up.

To be fair, a positive from this budget is the expansion of school choice, which empowers parents at a time when the importance of that choice is more clear than ever.

By pursuing these tax increases, Indiana House Republicans are making promises they can’t keep, while breaking the understanding voters have that Republicans will protect their wallets.

Indiana Senators can and should stop their House colleagues from harming themselves, and the taxpayers they represent. The more legislators get used to increasing taxes, the more Indiana will slip from the pro-taxpayer, business-friendly state it has been.  

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Nebraska's LB459 Would Increase Taxes on Life-Saving Products, Lead To Increase In Tobacco-Related Deaths

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021, 5:20 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform submitted testimony today in opposition to Nebraska’s Legislative Bill 459, which would increase taxes on life-saving reduced risk tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes and increase the highly regressive tax on tobacco. 

ATR Director of Consumer Issues, Tim Andrews, wrote: "These anti-science provisions would have a disastrous impact upon not only businesses, but public health throughout the State, and lead to an increase in tobacco-related deaths. LB 459 also seeks to increase the highly regressive tax on tobacco, disproportionately harming the state’s most vulnerable populations at a time when they can least afford it, while doing nothing to reduce smoking rates."  

Andrews noted the ever-growing body of research showing vapor products are an effective harm reduction tool for adults looking to quit smoking: "Extrapolating from a large-scale analysis by the US's leading cancer researchers and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Centre, if a majority of smokers in the state of Nebraska made the switch to vaping, over 40,000 lives would be saved. In seeking to tax these life-saving products, this bill would place these in jeopardy.” 

LB 459 fails to incentivize smokers to move away from deadly combustible cigarettes. Andrews noted that "As the price of a product increases, its use decreases. In previous instances, levying taxes on vaping products has been proven to increase smoking rates as people shift back to deadly combustible cigarettes. 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. Small increases in projected revenue should never come at the expense of human lives.

The full testimony can be found here.

Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson

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Public Health England Demolishes Anti-Vaping Misinformation

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021, 11:42 AM PERMALINK

While lawmakers and multi-million dollar anti-vaping groups in the United States continue to spread misinformation about reduced risk tobacco alternatives and seek to deny adults trying to quit smoking the opportunity to save their lives, Public Health England earlier today completed it's latest analysis on all the scientific data as it relates to vaping and its efficacy in helping smokers quit. Their conclusion - based on science and not the emotional rhetoric favored by US activists - is clear: Vaping, which is 95% safer than combustible tobacco, remains the best possible way for smokers to quit, and the evidence for this just keeps growing.

Some of the findings included:

  • Vaping is positively associated with quitting smoking successfully. In 2017, over 50,000 smokers stopped smoking with a vaping product who would otherwise have carried on smoking
  • Quit rates involving a vaping product were higher than any other method in every region in England
  • The 3 systematic reviews consistently found vaping products containing nicotine were significantly more effective for helping people stop smoking than NRT. This finding was supported by 2 non-randomised studies that reported higher quit rates among people using a vaping product who attended a stop smoking service, compared with those who used NRT.
  • Most young people who had never smoked had also never vaped. Between 0.8% and 1.3% of young people who had never smoked were current vapers.

 

The update also expressed serious concern that "perceptions of the harm caused by vaping compared with smoking are increasingly out of line with the evidence" and this is "discouraging smokers from using vaping to quit”.

Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England specifically stressed: "For anyone who smokes, particularly those who have already tried other methods, we strongly recommend they try vaping and stop smoking"

With evidence of the effectiveness of vaping now beyond all doubt, it's time lawmakers stopped trying to tax and regulate a life-saving product out of existance, and actually let smokers quit. 

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Alaska's SB 45 Would Tax Lifesaving Products, Cost Lives

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Friday, February 19th, 2021, 1:37 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform today submitted testimony in opposition to Alaska Senate Bill 45 which bans the use of flavors in life-saving reduced risk tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes.

ATR State Affairs Manager, Ben Rajadurai, wrote: “I urge you to reject Senate Bill 45, misguided legislation that would slap taxes on lifesaving reduced risk tobacco alternatives such as electronic cigarettes. If enacted, this anti-science bill would have a disastrous impact on businesses and public health throughout the state and lead to an increase in tobacco-related deaths.

Rajadurai noted the growing body of research showing vapor products are an effective harm reduction tool for adults looking to quit smoking and argued that taxes on these would increase smoking rates. Extrapolating from a large-scale analysis by the US’s leading cancer researchers and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Centre, if a majority of smokers in the state of Alaska made the switch to vaping, it would save over 13,000 lives.

HB 45 would also seek to ban remote and online sales. Rajadurai noted that these bans “would significantly reduce one’s access to these lifesaving products should they 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 combustible tobacco. Small increases in projected revenue should never come at the expense of human lives."

The full testimony can be read here.

Photo Credit: Dalem

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New Mexico's HB 205 Would Increase Tobacco Related Deaths & Devastate State's Economy

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Thursday, February 18th, 2021, 2:57 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform today submitted testimony in opposition to New Mexico House Bill 205 which bans the use of flavors in life-saving reduced risk tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes.

ATR Director of Consumer Issues, Tim Andrews, wrote: “This bill would have a disastrous impact on public health throughout the State, and lead to a clear increase in tobacco-related deaths in New Mexico.”

Andrews noted the growing body of research showing vapor products are an effective harm reduction tool for adults looking to quit smoking:

“Extrapolating from a large-scale analysis by the US’s leading cancer researchers and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Centre, vapor products would save over 52,000 lives if a majority of New Mexico smokers made the switch to vaping. This bill places lives in jeopardy by reducing access to these life-saving products.”

HB 205 would also seek to ban the use of flavors such as menthol in traditional cigarettes. Andrews noted that bans on menthol cigarettes “would also come with significant negative consequences for the state, with no evidence whatsoever that they have any effect in reducing smoking rates. Real world evidence from Massachusetts proves that such bans are counterproductive in that while they have no impact on smoking rates, they come at significant cost to the economy, harm the most vulnerable in society, and provide a boon for criminal syndicates and black market smugglers”.

The full testimony can be downloaded here.

Photo Credit: A4GPA

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Federal Mail Ban on Vape Products Jeopardizes Rural Health

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, 4:05 PM PERMALINK

At the end of 2020, Congress enacted legislation that would put the health of millions of adults, particularly those living in rural communities, in jeopardy. The measure -- passed without debate and stuffed into the massive omnibus spending package -- imposes a government ban on the adult purchase of reduced-risk tobacco alternatives through the mail. This will push many adults back to smoking deadly combustible cigarettes.  

While many in urban and suburban areas have access to specialized stores stocking reduced risk tobacco alternatives, this is not a practical option in rural America. These Americans have the highest smoking rates in the country and large numbers are veterans who previously placed their lives on the line for this country. Now they will be banned from purchasing through the mail life-saving alternatives to tobacco such as personal vaporizers which have been proven to be 95% safer than combustible cigarettes. 

Although this legislation only specifically forbids the USPS from deliveries, it included the imposition of severe regulations and extravagant fees now required for all shipments. As a result, FedEx and UPS announced they will end home delivery of vaping products, leaving no recourse for rural smokers wanting to quit to purchase these products legally. FedEx will end vapor shipments on March 1 and UPS will do so on April 5.

Sadly while Americans in rural areas will suffer, cigarette manufacturers will benefit as adults revert to their previous smoking habit.

This will have deadly consequences. An analysis coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Center and performed by leading cancer researchers found that if a majority of U.S. smokers made the switch to vaping, more than 6.6 million premature deaths would be avoided. Of these lives saved, 1.5 million would be from rural communities.  

For Alabama grandmother Leslie Ross, this legislation is personal. After 27 years of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, and multiple attempts to quit with nicotine patches, gum, and prescription medications, Ross made the switch to vaping products. Since then, her asthma and COPD, which she was diagnosed with at the age of 24, have drastically improved. “Vaping has saved my life,” Ross tells this author in an interview for this essay, adding that she hasn’t touched a cigarette since her third day vaping.  

The passage of the Vape Mail Ban endangers countless folks who, like Ross, order their products online and receive them through home delivery services. To access her preferred vaping product, Ross would need to drive almost four hours to reach the nearest store that offers it. That leaves adults with the choice of using products that don’t work for them or returning to readily-available cigarettes.  

“Some vapers will return to combustible cigarettes,” Ross said, adding that “others will turn to the black market” in search of their product.  

While the legislation was given the name, “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act” it punishes adults while sadly opening up new avenues for youth access. Ironically, criminals selling illegal devices and substances on the black market do not obey laws or follow mandated age verification requirements, likely increasing access for minors, which this legislation had intended to prevent. 

The impacts of this bill on public health cannot be overstated. The CDC has reported that cigarette smoking is responsible for the deaths of over 480,000 Americans each year. Additionally, smoking is linked to an increased risk of respiratory infections, and an additional increase in the severity of such infections.  

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and considering that coronavirus is a severe respiratory illness, many are baffled that our elected officials would enact such measures. American Vaping Association president Gregory Conley said, “The American people should start questioning why government is so intent on making it harder for adults to quit smoking.”

Lawmakers ought to reverse this policy to prevent detrimental health effects to American adults residing in rural areas.

Photo Credit: SKR_RGR

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UK: Bipartisan Inquiry Into The UN's Harmful Anti-Vaping Regulations

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021, 4:43 PM PERMALINK

With growing international recognition of the danger to public health the World Health Organization poses, it is pleasing to see that across the pond a bi-partisan committee has been established to launch an inquiry into the scandal-prone taxpayer-funded bureaucracy. 

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, comprised of Members of Parliament across all sides of politics, is currently collecting evidence on the failures of the UN's anti-tobacco harm reduction policies

The Americans for Tax Reform Affiliate, the Property Rights Alliance, submitted the following testimony to the Inquiry (full version with citations may be downloaded here): 

 

29 January 2021

Subject: Comments to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping Inquiry into the Ninth Conference of the Parties

Dear Chairman Pawsey,

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping (APPG) inquiry into the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9).

Property Rights Alliance (PRA) is an international advocacy and research organization based in Washington, D.C. dedicated to protecting intellectual property rights, physical property rights and promoting innovation around the world.

1.UK Government policies should promote the successful quit aid tools.

There is a consensus in the United Kingdom among academics, scientists, and the medical community that reduced-risk tobacco alternatives such as vaping e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes. Extensive research by Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians has determined that by providing users with nicotine, but bypassing the combustion process that is the main cause of tobacco-related morbidity, electronic cigarettes are 95% less harmful (Public Health England, 2018) than combustible tobacco. For this reason, over 30 of the world’s leading public health organizations have endorsed nicotine vaping as safer than smoking and an effective way to help smokers quit.

In addition to their relative safety compared to combustible tobacco, scientific data support the function of vaping products as a successful quit aid tool considerably more effective than traditional nicotine replacement therapies. A 2019 study by the U.K. National Health Service published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that e-cigarettes may help adults quit. A group assigned to e-cigarettes as a combustible tobacco replacement were more likely to remain abstinent at one year compared with a group using nicotine replacement products (18% versus 9.9%).

According to a report commissioned on e-cigarettes by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (2018) which analyzed the findings of 800 peer-reviewed studies, it was determined that there is moderate evidence that risk and severity of dependence are lower for e-cigarettes than combustible tobacco cigarettes. and that there is conclusive evidence that completely substituting e-cigarettes from combustible tobacco cigarettes reduces a user’s exposure to numerous toxicants. The published update of the Cochrane Collaboration review in October 2020 also showed that e-cigarettes helped smokers to achieve long-term smoking abstinence.  It assessed the results of 50 studies from across 13 jurisdictions, representing 12,430 participants.

As a result of their effectiveness as an aid to quit smoking, e-cigarettes have become extremely popular, increasing from about seven million users in 2011 to 41 million in 2018 (Euromonitor International). Over the next 10 years about six million premature deaths could be averted, if most smokers switched to e-cigarettes.With the introduction of e-cigarettes, a rapid drop in the smoking rate has coincided from 19.3% in 2010 to 13.7% in 2018.

Public Health England has played a significant role in advancing evidence-based policymaking and ensuring that alternative nicotine delivery devices, which are less harmful than smoking, are available to smokers who are trying to quit. As such, this is in line with Government Policy to reduce mortality rates.

The FCTC has as its mission to ‘protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke …. to reduce continually and substantially the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.' Policies enacted under this framework must therefore aim to actually reduce smoking prevalence. Evidence has demonstrated that recent policies promulgated have not only strayed from this goal but are in active opposition to it.  While the UK has played a positive role in terms of reducing the burden of people smoking, and with e-cigarettes helping millions of adult smokers quit smoking, it is disturbing that the World Health Organization thus far refuses to acknowledge the science and is actively advising governments against effective tobacco harm reduction policies.  The government of the United Kingdom should promote harm-reducing practices within the WHO discussions and reduce barriers to access innovative products that are game-changers for smoke-free policies. Any measures that COP9 will propose should recognize the data presented and consider the UK national experience.

The United Kingdom, as a global leader in tobacco control, can ensure that regulatory measures are based on sufficient and convincing data. This is the only case to implement realistic measures to each country that will be efficient. A general idea about the protection of public health is not enough. The reports to COP9 will likely continue to recommend that countries either ban new harm reduction products or regulate them strictly to discourage their use. An example of strict regulation is the Plain Packaging implemented for tobacco, which has been conclusively proven to have failed to have any impact upon smoking rates in any jurisdiction where it has been tried but has instead led to a boon in black market illicit tobacco smuggling by international criminal syndicates.  

2.The discussions within the WHO and COP do not reflect real-life evidence.

The policy positions presented by WHO should be based in realistic and accurate criteria about tobacco consumption and efficacy of harm reduction tobacco products. A procedure based in transparency and public consultation will contribute more to the goal of smoking reduction. The Advisory Bodies (TobReg and TobLanNet) and the Governing body of COP should collect data from independent scientific teams and make them visible to countries like the UK. Similarly, it is a fundamental principle of good government that decisions be made in an open, accountable, and transparent manner. Unfortunately, COP meetings operated behind closed doors, with no opportunity for journalists, scientists or non-profit watchdogs to observe or participate.  Furthermore, there is no public consultation between the release of the Secretariat report and the COP session. WHO should make transparency part of their policy.

As most anti-tobacco policies and legislation ratified under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) aim to reduce smoking prevalence, the justification of COP proposals should be formed based on the smoking rate of each category (adults, youth etc), the tobacco consumption and the success of the quit aid tools in each country. Massive bans or brand removals are trade tactics oriented towards the market structure and not the protection of public health. Prohibition time and time again has been shown to fail.

In contrast to the “abstinence only” policy of the WHO, Public Health England (PHE) has offered guidance for employers and organizations looking to introduce policies around e-cigarettes and vaping in public and recommends that such policies should be evidence-based. This is a more sensible system of regulation, which works with consumers to ensure better public health outcomes. It is noted that the UK government can further improve some aspects of its tobacco policy and the constraints (health warnings and advertising ban) imposed by the EU Tobacco Products Directive should be removed so as to ensure smokers have access to appropriate information regarding the health benefits of quitting smoking through vaping.

3.The tobacco control policies for adolescents and the unintended consequences of proposals.

In the UK, the rate of minors using vape products has consistently been below 2 percent.Data from the 2019 ASH YouGov Smokefree youth GB survey suggest that a large majority (93.8% in total) of children ages 11-18 in the UK who have never smoked have also never used an e-cigarette (87.8%) or are not even aware of them (6.0%). The overall trend in tobacco use over time in both adults and children has been downwards since 2010, when e-cigarette use became widespread among adult smokers and ex-smokers (Adult smoking habits in the UK, 2017-2018). A 2018 report by Public Health England found that e-cigarettes are attracting very few young people who have never smoked into regular use and that e-cigarette use among never-smokers is less than 1%. A possible flavor taste ban is a policy measure hurting the public health and the UK Government should be aware of the unintended consequences of such measures. Governmental policies should protect young people and at the same time provide a cessation aid for people attempting to quit smoking. 

The United Kingdom followed the European Tobacco Products Directive in response to the WHO’s call to action in preventing youth from using tobacco products. In a framework of going completely ‘smoke-free’ by 2030, the UK banned the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes since 20 May 2020, despite the lack of evidence of flavored tobacco being responsible for any increased tobacco usage. Alternative products such as menthol vaping products  are still available in the market. In some countries such as Netherlands, the Government proposed banning flavors in electronic vaping products as well, a measure that failed to consider the public health benefit of a harm reduction tool.

Flavors must remain available through legal channels as a matter of consumer safety. Otherwise, the black-market will flourish while putting dangerous products in the hands of thousands of consumers. Banning vape flavors practically misinforms smokers about the relative risks of e-cigarettes and limits the usefulness of vaping. Significantly more adults and youth may go back to smoking combustible tobacco. According to the Consumer Choice Center, access to flavors increases the likelihood of quitting smoking by 230% and 260,363 vapers would be driven back to smoking without them.

According to the ASH Smokefree Great Britain 2019 Survey, if the flavours were banned, 1 in 5 smokers said they would either smoke more tobacco or return to smoking tobacco. A US 2017 survey of young adults using both e-cigarettes and vaping products, indicated that a ban on e-liquid flavors would lead to increases in combustible cigarette use and simultaneously lead to reductions in e-cigarette use. As such, any proposals through the COP process to further restrict access to flavoured vaping products would without doubt lead to an increase in people smoking combustible cigarettes.

4.WHO bans the use of tobacco harm reduction tools, moving away from FCTC objectives.

According to the latest Global State of Tobacco Harm reduction (GSTHR) report(GSTHR, Burning Issues 2020) almost 100 million people are now using a range of vaping products and they do not use combustible cigarettes at all. The evidence provided by this report shows the effect of harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes on the global decline in cigarette consumption per adult.

On the contrary WHO in its latest report from their expert committee on Tobacco Product Regulation, released December 23rd, recommended to ban and prohibit e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (WHO Expert Committee Meeting Report, Dec 23, 2020). This recommendation conflicts with the FCTC protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products that aimed at eliminating all forms of illicit trade in the tobacco environment. The banning of vaping products would lead the smokers to purchase their e-cigarettes from illicit markets or from jurisdictions where they are legal. Public health may be damaged with a sharp rise in smuggling and sale of illegal e-cigarettes. Illicit trade of e-cigarettes is a mounting problem across the globe that hurts economies and also may be used to fund terrorist and similar criminal enterprises. Furthermore, it ignores the scientific evidence provided indicating the power of vaping products to increase quit rates more effectively or to modify behaviors associated with combustible cigarettes.

Despite the fact that the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) aims to reduce harmful tobacco consumption, there have only been a few attempts to empirically evaluate the impact of this international treaty. Unfortunately, there is no empirical interventional study to evaluate the effectiveness of the decision to adopt a tobacco control treaty as a strategy for reducing global cigarette consumption. Analysis of tobacco consumption trends is necessary to discern patterns for future tobacco control policies including the different priorities of each country’s strategy. No internationally comparable data on tobacco consumption are available for analysis by quasi-experiment. An interdisciplinary and international collaboration is necessary under the WHO, setting down standards for research and assessing risk and benefits.

Among FCTC’s mandates was the investigation of novel tobacco products. The FCTC is not a good forum for encouraging new ideas. The investigation by FCTC apparently is limited to strict regulations of tobacco products that often referred to the products as a “serious barrier to progress”.There is a persistent problem with the WHO relying on poor evidence or the motivated reasoning of activists. The WHO Executive Board 146th session meeting (February 2020) called for countries to ban or restrict the use of e-cigarettes and novel and emerging tobacco products. FCTC has examined a limited amount of scientific evidence and, by their own admission, “international scientific consensus was not yet reached”on the existing health effects.

WHO should take a fresh look at the function of e-cigarettes as a harm reduction tool and accept the progress that the tobacco industry has made in developing products that are able to significantly reduce smoking. Science should come first in every health issue or situation. The pandemic crisis confirmed this statement. Policies of WHO, including plain packaging and banning of vaping products, damage Intellectual Property Rights and innovation. States can protect public health without damaging private property right protections and security of innovation. Tobacco control should be a social, public health, and quality-of-life concern rather than a business and trade issue.

5. Intellectual Property Rights are significant for the innovative harm-reducing products.

E-cigarettes became possible only due to strong intellectual property rights in a competitive open market. Intellectual property rights connect innovators with consumers’ demand for harm-reducing products. States can protect public health without compromising the protection of private property rights and market-driven innovation. The effective protection of intellectual and property rights is essential and can promote investment in the market.

When a ban in tobacco products is introduced, the right to property (Article 1, First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights) is weighed against the legitimate interest of public health. The rationale for the health function of banning vaping products contradicts the overwhelming evidence on e-cigarettes as the most successful quit aid. It is a discriminatory measure for consumers, who are denied the access to products with reduced risk. It may support some fundamental rights including the right to health and a clean environment, but it unduly violates the right to liberty, property and equality. Practices like these, discourage investment and put businesses at risk of losing their competitive edge. Policies that undermine innovation often have unintended consequences, and Property Rights Alliance opposes all measures that have irreparable harm to intellectual property.

6. Conclusion

The initial intention of the COP process was to reduce tobacco dependency and the associated mortality caused by the smoking of conventional tobacco products. In actively opposing the opportunities presented by newer reduced-risk tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes, the World Health Organization is now actively working against its stated mission. It is furthermore deeply troubling that independent scientific experts remain excluded from the COP9 process, and the complete lack of transparency and consultation violate every norm of sound public policy.

As a result of the WHO pursing a policy agenda that is contrary to science, the UK faces significant threats that its successful harm reduction model may be undermined, and access to life-saving products may be restricted. As such, unless the UK and like-minded pro-science governments are able to achieve serious structural reform in the WHO, the UK needs to re-evaluate its participation in the FCTC.

Thank you very much for considering our comments. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.

Respectfully submitted,

Chrysa Kazakou
Non-Resident Fellow

Tim Andrews
Director of Consumer Issues

 

Photo Credit: US Mission Geneva

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Victory for Consumers, Science in New Hampshire

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021, 8:12 PM PERMALINK

In a victory for evidence and common sense, the New Hampshire Senate Commerce Committee yesterday voted to dismiss SB 62, legislation that would have banned flavored reduced risk tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes. Contrary to arguments made by special interest groups, these innovative products have proven critical to the process of helping adults quit smoking, while having no impact whatsoever on youth vaping rates.

Testimony presented to the committee demonstrated how, if enacted, SB 62 would have had a disastrous impact on businesses and public health throughout the Granite State, leading to widespread layoffs and business closures, as well as a clear increase in tobacco-related mortality.

It is becoming all too common for legislators to ignore science and data, and impose bans and regulations with disastrous consequences.

Consumers across the Granite State thank Commerce Committee Chair Harold French, Vice Chair Bill Cannon, and Senators Jeb Bradley and Kevin Cavanaugh for following the evidence and for their service!

You can download ATR's submission setting out the evidence here

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ATR Applauds Governor Ron DeSantis for Vetoing Flavored Vaping Ban

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Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, September 9th, 2020, 3:27 PM PERMALINK

In one of the last pieces of legislation sent to Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) during the 2020 legislative session, he was asked to consider Senate Bill 810, a statewide ban on the legal sale of flavored nicotine e-cigarettes and vapor products to adults. At 8PM last night, the governor announced his veto of the legislation, citing both concerns about the risk of adult vapers returning to smoking and the economic consequences of shutting down small businesses across Florida who sell these products to adults looking to make the transition to less harmful alternatives. 

Americans for Tax Reform applauds Governor DeSantis, who is the first governor in the nation to veto legislation that would ban flavored nicotine e-cigarettes for adults. 

In his veto transmission letter, Gov. DeSantis explained: 

"This legislation would almost assuredly lead more people to resume smoking cigarettes, and it would drive others to the hazardous black market. The latter consequence is especially significant because the much-publicized cases of lung injury associated with vaping in recent years have been traced to illegal, or black market, vape cartridges containing THC, not to the type of legal vaping products that this bill would abolish. 

Reducing the use of all nicotine-related products, including vaping, among our youth is an important goal, but this will not be achieved by eliminating legal products for adults and by devastating the small businesses who provide these adults with reduced risk alternatives to cigarettes.

For these reasons, I hearby veto SB810." 

ATR urged the governor to veto this legislation earlier this year, explaining:

"In Florida alone, the nicotine vapor industry employs more than 10,000 Floridians. A ban on flavored products would kill over 4,500 jobs, eliminate $186.6 million in employee wages, and reduce economic output by $605.6 million, according to an analysis conducted by John Dunham & Associates.

...Not only are e-cigarettes twice as effective at helping smokers quit as traditional nicotine replacement therapies like the nicotine patch or lozenge, but flavored vapor products are essential in the quit journey of so many adult smokers. Limiting adult choices to only those products that may remind them of the flavor of cigarettes will do little to transition them to reduced risk alternatives. We know that adults not only like flavors but need them to successfully quit, evidence found in national adult preference surveys like those published in the journal Harm Reduction, which found that over 80% of adults prefer flavored vapor products over traditional tobacco or menthol ones. For adult smokers who can begin to make the switch, the evidence suggests that it’s a significant improvement for one’s health. In fact, the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England has concluded that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes." 

Americans for Tax Reform has long argued that the importance of flavored e-cigarettes for adults looking to quit smoking isn't simply about more choices but a matter of life and death. The governor's understanding that both lives and jobs are on the line underscores his embrace of tobacco harm reduction, even going against the grain of the prohibition voices within his own party. For the more than 1.3 million adult vapers in Florida, this may prove to be one of the most consequential and positive public health moves of the DeSantis administration to date.

[Testimonials from adults who rely on flavored vapes, in order to quit and stay off cigarettes]

More governors should follow the lead of DeSantis, who listened to the concerns of entrepreneurs, passionate adult vapers, and credible academics who have examined the science around the benefit of smokers making the switch to nicotine e-cigarettes. 

Photo Credit: GoFishDigital, Flickr

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If Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Wants To Keep His Commitment To Voters, He’ll Veto The Recently-Passed Vape Tax Hike

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Posted by Jack Fencl on Wednesday, July 8th, 2020, 4:07 PM PERMALINK

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) is one of 12 sitting governors who has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written commitment to voters to oppose and veto any and all efforts to raises taxes. If Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is to keep this promise to Georgia taxpayers, then he will veto a bill currently sitting on his desk that would impose an onerous tax increase on Georgia vapers. 

Despite being under firm Republican control, both the Georgia House and Senate passed Senate Bill 375, a tax hike projected to raise about $14.5 million in new tax revenue annually by creating a 7 percent tax on vapor products. ATR opposed SB 375 from the beginning not only because it amounts to a significant tax hike, but also because it will adversely impact the health of Georgians by making a less harmful alternative to cigarettes far more costly. 

A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that a vape tax in Minnesota prevented about 32,400 adult cigarette smokers from quitting. Similarly, a Georgia State University study found that for every 10 percent increase in taxes on nicotine vapor products, cigarette sales rose 11 percent. That same study also found that e-cigarette sales dropped 26 percent, indicating vape tax hikes push consumers to use traditional combustible cigarettes instead. 

In many cases, misguided government policies are merely frustrating, but in this case it is literally lethal. While there are risks associated with vaping, it is clearly much less harmful than smoking. In fact, the global consensus by health expertes is that vaping is at least 95 percent less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes.  

The vape tax hike approved by Georgia lawmakers in June was not the first tax hike they passed this year. Earlier this year, the Republican controlled Georgia legislature passed House Bill 276, which amounts to a massive $150 million per year tax hike by forcing out-of-state marketplace facilitators to collect and remit sales taxes on online purchases in made by Georgia residents. 

The proclivity for tax hikes on the part of Georgia Republicans makes them an outlier in a region full of GOP-run legislatures that have been busy cutting taxes in recent years. Lawmakers in Florida and Tennessee cut taxes this year as a way to spur the economic recovery. North Carolina Republican legislators have been able to enact pro-growth tax cuts in recent years, overcoming the opposition of a Democrat governor who wants to raise taxes. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in Georgia have a Taxpayer Protection Pledge signer in their governor’s mansion and keep sending him tax hikes.  

Governor Kemp should veto SB 375 because it’s a mid-recession tax hike on a product that helps people quit smoking, and also a regressive tax hike that will disproportionately harm those who can least afford it. If that weren’t enough, Governor Kemp should also veto this tax hike because, by doing so, he’ll uphold one of the key promises he made on the campaign trail two years ago. 

Photo Credit: Georgia National Guard

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