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The Anti-Vaping Crusade Backfires: Smoking Rates INCREASE For the First Time in Decades

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Posted by Garrett Smith on Friday, January 14th, 2022, 10:49 AM PERMALINK

 

From seed oils to the food pyramid, health officials have a reputation for missing the mark when it comes to informing public wellbeing. One thing they have prided themselves on however is the success in curbing smoking rates, with cigarette sales steadily declining for more than thirty years. Until now.

Smoking, especially among minors and young adults, seems to be making a comeback in the general public for the first time in decades. The causes of this rise have puzzled researchers, some saying perhaps the pandemic is to blame. After all, smoking is a typical coping mechanism for people struggling with isolation, sadness, and stress - all emotions many have felt while being forced to quarantine indoors. However, this claim is contradicted by data coming out of New Zealand claiming that smoking rates on the archipelago have declined after loosening regulation on electronic cigarettes.

The New York Times partially attributes smoking’s rise from the ashes to fashion. Kat Frey, a Brooklyn copywriter the Times spoke to, calls it part of a  “sexy and ethereal 1980’s revival” with a “contemporarily atypical” aesthetic in contrast to vaping which is seen to some as a juvenile activity.

But undoubtedly the blame in large part rests upon the shoulders of those same health officials. Their puritanical fervor towards the complete cessation of nicotine use in its totality shifted the focus from cigarettes to reduced-harm smokeless tobacco alternatives. In recent years, advertisers and policymakers embarked on a zealous war on reduced-harm smokeless tobacco products and vaping, despite the fact that electronic cigarettes have been proven to be a 95% less harmful alternative. One person interviewed by the Times claimed she "switched back to cigarettes because I thought it would be healthier than Juuling," a testament to the widespread misinformation against electronic cigarettes.

The shift in focus is the result of a dogmatic, paranoid anti-nicotine mindset which pervades public health spheres that are ignorant of the facts. Nicotine alone has a risk profile identical to caffeine, and can even yield positive effects on persons with mental health and eating disorders as most of the danger from smoking comes from the inhalation of toxic carcinogens and cancer-causing chemicals. Endless propaganda against smokeless products has created a stigma against these products while encouraging legislation which makes access to life-saving cigarette alternatives increasingly difficult to acquire. For example, in San Francisco, youth smoking actually increased by 6.2% following a ban on flavored vape products and Minnesota’s 95% tax on e-cigarettes created more than 32,0000 new cigarette smokers. Meanwhile places with lax restrictions on vaping like New Zealand have seen record declines in smoking rates.

So perhaps it is time for the health lobby to reassess their priorities and acknowledge their recent failures in tobacco policy. In their fight against all nicotine products, they have begun to pursue regressive policies which conflict with their stated goals.

Photo Credit: "Lighting a Cigarette" by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli

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NIH Commissioned Research Shows BBB Tax On Quitting Smoking Will Lead To 2.5 Million Additional Smokers, Over 1.5 Million Preventable Deaths

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Thursday, November 18th, 2021, 4:44 PM PERMALINK

Americans For Tax Reform today called on House Democrats to accept the science as detailed in extensive reports commissioned by the U.S. Government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and vote AGAINST the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376) due to its disastrous impact on public health. H.R. 5376 is expected to be voted on later this evening.

NIH commissioned research has found that the tax increases on people trying to quit smoking through electronic nicotine delivery systems contained in H.R. 5376 would lead to 2.5 million additional smokers in the United States,  including an additional half a million teen smokers.. The new tax proposal includes products that have been approved by the FDA as “appropriate for the protection of public health” and have been conclusively proven to be 95% safer than traditional combustible tobacco”.  

“It is mind-boggling that in the midst of a global pandemic, Nancy Pelosi is pushing a tax hike on people trying to save their lives, just to pay for a tax-cut for the ultra rich” said Tim Andrews, Director of Consumer Issues at Americans for Tax Reform. “The science is crystal clear: This bill is a public health disaster. The tax hikes on people trying to quit smoking contained in H.R. 5376 would lead to more people millions more Americans smoking – and dying as a result. “With millions of lives on the line, it’s time for Congressional Democrats to listen to the science – and reject Nancy Pelosi’s desperate SALT pay-for cash grab which seeks to raise revenue at the expense of human lives“

Andrews continued: “To increase taxes on poor Americans trying to quit smoking just to pay for tax cuts for multi-millionaires is morally reprehensible. Not only is this a blatant violation of President Biden’s Pledge not to increase taxes on Americans under earning $400,000, not only is it a Reverse Robin Hood which robs from the poor to give to the rich, it is a tax the evidence clearly shows will lead to an extra 2.5 million Americans smoking, and dying as a result. To condemn so many lives to pay for tax breaks for multi-millionaires is one of the most morally bankrupt actions ever undertaken by a government.’

HR 5376 includes a new tax of $50.33 per 1,810 mg of nicotine contained in next generation electronic nicotine delivery systems such as e-cigarettes. These funds would be used to help pay for SALT provisions for the ultra-wealthy, which the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation has stated would give two-thirds of people making more than a million dollars a tax cut.” Of the 2.5 million additional smokers this Act would create, it is estimated that two thirds – or over 1.6 million -would die as a result.

Andrews concluded: “Nancy Pelosi’s Build Back Better Act  places a small amount of revenue as more important than saving over 1.5 million lives. We call upon all Democrats to follow their conscience, and do the right thing by their constituents, and vote against this deeply unethical and immoral blood tax."

Photo Credit: Vaping 360

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Bloomberg, the World Health Organisation & the Vaping Misinfodemic

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Tuesday, November 9th, 2021, 12:32 PM PERMALINK

As the delegates are meeting for the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control behind closed doors this week, public health experts across the globe expressed their disappointment as to what is on the agenda, but rather what is missing.

Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that vaping is 95% safer than smoking, multiple times more effective than any other smoking cessation method, and has been shown to have the power to save over 200 million lives in the next decade, any talk of tobacco harm reduction is strictly off the agenda. Yes that’s right, the first meeting of delegates to the world’s major tobacco control conference since 2018, are refusing to discuss… the most successful tobacco control product in history.

In addition to the vested interests of large national WHO donors in preventing smokers from making the switch, such as China, whose government owns one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, a significant reason for this is the hundreds of millions of dollars that US Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has used to combat harm reduction at the WHO, and attempt to deny smoking cessation alternatives to persons in developing countries.

Now, a new report entitled “Bloomberg, WHO and the Vaping Misinfodemic,” and compiled under the leadership of former World Health Organisation Senior Adviser Charles Gardner, PHD, examines in detail the corrupting influence of Michael Bloomberg on the World Health Organization, and how science has been distorted. Offering a clear, albeit shocking, portrait of how the World Health Organization, at the behest of Blooomberg, goes against its core mission of tobacco control, the report also offers concrete options for reform to improve transparency, accountability, as well as a return to science based policy.

At a time when Bloomberg has been under investigation by the Philippines Government for attempting to subvert their regulatory process, and leaked documents have revealed how extensive and pervasive Bloomberg’s Philanthropies attempts to manipulate governments are, this report is a wake up call to governments who care about the health of their populace, and to use it to achieve genuine change.  

Photo Credit: Seth Anderson

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Build Back Better Act Protects Big Tobacco & Robs From The Poor To Give To The Rich

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Friday, November 5th, 2021, 11:40 AM PERMALINK

Press Release: Build Back Better Act Protects Big Tobacco & Robs From The Poor To Give To The Rich

Americans for Tax Reform today called on House Democrats to match their rhetoric with their votes and vote NO on new taxes on people quitting smoking.  H.R. 5376, The Build Back Better Act, includes new taxes on lifesaving alternative nicotine delivery systems which would see some prices double and could make them more expensive than deadly combustible cigarettes. Democrat leadership plan to use these funds to pay for the SALT Deduction tax break for the super-wealthy.  

“If House Democrats truly cared about social justice and poorer Americans, they would oppose the immoral new taxes in the Build Back Better Act designed to protect cigarette companies, discourage smokers from quitting, and redistribute funds from low-income earners to the wealthy elite” said Tim Andrews, Director of Consumer Issues.

“Millions of Americans have successfully quit smoking through reduced risk tobacco alternatives, which the FDA has ruled appropriate for the protection of public health. To tax products these products higher than deadly combustible cigarettes is simply outrageous, and will lead to more Americans smoking – with tragic consequences.  Academic research estimates these taxes would lead to 2.75 million more American smokers, and security analysts are already urging investors  to purchase shares in tobacco companies as the Build Back Better Act would “would effectively protect U.S. cigarette sales

Andrews also noted how the nicotine tax is being used to pay for SALT deductions, almost all of which will be used to benefit persons earning over $1 million annually, while users of these products overwhelmingly come from the poorest segments of society:

“With the vast majority of users of reduced risk tobacco alternatives low-income earners, this highly regressive tax not only blatantly violates Joe Biden’s pledge to not increase taxes on persons earning under $400,000, by using it to fund the SALT deduction for the wealthy elite, it is quite literally a tax on the poor to give to the rich. It beggars belief that so-called “progressives” could ever support this reverse Robin Hood.”

Andrews concluded: “Small increases in revenue must never come at the expense of human lives. We call on all Democrats to stand up for their constituents, and vote against this immoral new tax. Millions of lives quite literally depend on it.”

Photo Credit: Centophobia

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Anti-Vape Activists Cause First Increase In Cigarette Sales In 20 Years

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Wednesday, October 27th, 2021, 10:57 AM PERMALINK

Newly released data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has shown that annual cigarette sales in 2020 increased for the first time in two decades, despite numerous tax increase in multiple states on the product. The increase in cigarette sales follows a concerted effort by well funded anti-vaping activists to distort the science and data regarding vaping to pass laws restricting consumer access, causing a significant drop in the number of smokers quitting, as well as leading smokers who had previously made the switch returning to combustible tobacco.

Vaping, a proven harm reduction technology which is 95% safer than deadly combustible tobacco, is endorsed by over 60 of the world’s leading medical bodies, and according to studies conducted by Georgetown University Medical Center has the potential to save 6.6 million American lives in the next 10 years. Despite the science, activists, primarily funded by Michael Bloomberg to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, throughout 2020 lobbied lawmakers to restrict access to this vital quit-smoking aid, leading to multiple states and local governments banning the majority of vaping products. These bans, such as those instituted in San Francisco, have already been shown by Yale University to increase youth smoking rates and this latest data demonstrates that these restrictions have contributed to smoking increasing across the board.

In addition, misinformation regarding “EVALI”, a 2019 outbreak of lung illnesses caused by illicit, black market THC products laced with Vitamin E acetate which has nothing to do with nicotine vaping products, has also been shown to have increased the smoking rate. According to previously published research conducted by Boston University, anti-vaping activists “messaging that questioned the safety of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes” and falsely attributed EVALI to nicotine vaping “led to an increase in combustible cigarette use

This trend of increased smoking is set to continue if Congressional Democrats get their way, and impose staggering new Federal Taxes on e-cigarettes. Academic modelling has shown that Democrat proposals, which would see e-cigarettes taxed even higher than combustible tobacco, would lead to 2.75 million additional smokers in the United States.

The increase in smoking rates has proven the devastating public health consequences of the Bloomberg-driven anti-vaping campaign in the United States. It’s time that lawmakers accept the science, and follow other governments such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand, who are actively promoting smokers making the switch to vaping. Millions of lives quite literally depend on it.

Photo Credit: Centophobia

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Tobacco Tax Grab a Disaster for Michigan Residents, Businesses, & State Budget

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Monday, October 4th, 2021, 4:56 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) strongly condemned plans by Congressional Democrats to increase tobacco taxes by $96 billion as devastating to Michigan, ahead of a visit by President Joe Biden to Howell tomorrow.  

ATR’s Director of Consumer Issues, Tim Andrews, stated “Any plans to double the federal tobacco tax and impose new taxes reduced risk tobacco alternatives are a blatant violation of President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on anyone earning under $400,000. This tax hike will harm the poorest Americans and entrench income inequalities even further. 72% of smokers are low-income earners. It is unconscionable to increase taxes on the poor – who are still struggling with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic - to pay for more subsidies for the rich. 
 
Andrews also noted the negative effects that this tax hike would have on the Michigan economy and on the State’s budget: “These new taxes will lead to disastrous economic consequences for retailers and family-owned convenience stores as more and more smokers will move to the black market. In addition to eliminating an estimated 400 jobs, estimates project that the tax hike will reduce wages by $19.6 million and significantly reduce state government revenue.  

Andrews concluded that “Democrats in other states like Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear have already condemned this proposal as bad for families and bad for their states. When President Biden visits Howell tomorrow, voters must hold him to his pledge and let him know that The Wolverine State just can’t afford more new taxes.” 

Photo Credit: Sagittariuss

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Democratic Governor Opposes Biden's New Tobacco Taxes

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Posted by Dennis Hull on Friday, October 1st, 2021, 4:55 PM PERMALINK

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has finally found a tax hike that he doesn't like. Beshear warned President Joe Biden last week that new federal taxes proposed by members of their party would cause "significant, severe, and quick loss of jobs in the remaining Kentucky tobacco industry, especially in Hopkinsville where much of the product is processed." 

Vaping products are already taxed substantially by state governments at the producer level. Rates vary from 5% of the wholesale price in South Carolina to 95% in Minnesota, where research indicated that the high excise tax deterred 32,400 people from quitting cigarettes. Producers are hit hard by that tax, with state and local governments collecting $20 billion in total tobacco tax levies in 2019. Last year, states collected between $1 and $10 million on vaping products alone. 

The new tax will also lead to disastrous economic consequences for retailers and family-owned tobacco shops in Kentucky. In addition to eliminating 295 jobs, the tax hike is projected to reduce wages by $11.6 million. Vape shops – deemed "essential businesses" during the pandemic – are often operated by diverse, first-generation owners and families. The hefty new tax will lower the demand for e-cigarettes and drive many smaller shops out of business. 

Meanwhile, sales revenue will drop by $20.7 million across nearly 4,700 tobacco retailers in the state, more than half of which are single-owner operations. Ironically, state and local governments will also experience reduced tax revenue since nicotine purchases fuel more than a third of total sales at convenience stores across the state. 

If these new taxes are ultimately successful, businesses in Kentucky and throughout the country will bear unacceptable financial consequences and consumers will lose access to valuable harm-reduction products. Vapor products are 95% safer than combustible cigarettes, making them a natural alternative for smokers looking to quit. Compared to traditional nicotine replacement therapies like patches and gums, adult smokers are more than twice as likely to quit using an e-cigarette. New federal taxes would significantly reduce the appeal of switching from toxic cigarettes.  

For example, the federal government is actively disincentive vaping with a regressive 2,000% tax hike on e-cigarettes. That's an extra $2.25 per pod of vaping fluid, far higher than the current tax of $1.01 per pack of cigarettes (and higher even than the proposed new cigarette tax of $2.01). Moreover, for many smokers – nearly 75% of whom are from low-income communities – the new tax will make the switch to vaping far less appealing, potentially encouraging them to switch back to dangerous combustible cigarettes.  

Beshear’s opposition to new taxes on vapor products is good news for Kentucky and former smokers across the nation. Other Democratic governors like Governor Roy Cooper  should follow Beshear’s lead and look to better solutions to pay for their spending bill – ones that do not unfairly target law-abiding adult smokers, family-owned tobacco stores, and Kentucky's producers.  

Photo Credit: Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Kentucky

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CDC Data Debunks "Teen Vaping" Panic

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Friday, October 1st, 2021, 8:18 AM PERMALINK

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Congressional Democrats are trying to tax and regulate the vaping industry out of existence based on claims of a "youth epidemic", newly released data from the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA's 2019 and 2020 National Youth Tobacco Surveys conclusively demonstrates that this myth is not grounded in any factual bases. 

Current data shows that only 3.1% of High School Students and just 0.2% of Middle School students vape daily, and the number of students who had experimented with at least one puff of a e-cigarette in the last 30 days plummeted by 50% since 2018.  These numbers are expected to fall further, as policies such as Tobacco 21 and increased enforcement reduces the ability for young Americans to have access to these products.

While certainly it would be ideal if no high school students used these products, to claim 3.1% of high school and 0.2% of middle school students vaping is somehow an "epidemic" is laughable nonsense.

To cut off access for adults trying to quit smoking with a product proven 95% safer which has the potential to save millions of lives on the basis of a myth which government provided data easily disproves will be remembered as one of the worst public health decisions of a generation. 

Photo Credit: Pixel Bloom

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New Federal Vape Tax Will Hurt Virginia Economy, Small Businesses

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Posted by Dennis Hull on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021, 6:05 PM PERMALINK

In their hunt for new revenue to pay for a massive reconciliation package, congressional Democrats are proposing an array of new taxes on e-cigarettes. Raising the cost of synthetic nicotine threatens the appeal of e-cigarettes among former adult smokers and undermines the success of the Virginia economy.  

As they use far fewer chemicals than cigarettes, vapes are an effective and safe alternative to traditional tobacco products. The proliferation of these devices has been a major benefit for adult smokers looking to quit. Studies reveal that vaping is much more effective than other treatments for smoking cessation, such as nicotine patches. 

Yet the federal government is looking to disincentivize vaping for all Americans with a regressive 2,000% tax hike on e-cigarettes. That’s an extra $2.25 per pod of vaping fluid, far higher than the current tax of $1.01 per pack of cigarettes (and higher even than the proposed new cigarette tax of $2.01). For many smokers – nearly 75% of whom are from low-income communities – the new tax will make the switch to vaping far less appealing, potentially encouraging some to switch back to dangerous combustible cigarettes. Low-income individuals, who will overwhelmingly bear the brunt of the new tobacco tax, are also those who are least able to afford it. 

In Virginia, new federal taxes on nicotine products will lead to disastrous economic consequences for retailers and family-owned tobacco shops. In addition to eliminating 372 jobs, the tax hike is projected to reduce wages by $17.6 million. Vape shops – deemed “essential businesses” during the pandemic – are often operated by diverse, first-generation owners and families. The hefty new tax will lower the demand for e-cigarettes and drive many smaller shops out of business. 

Meanwhile, sales revenue will drop by $20.7 million across nearly 6,500 tobacco retailers in the state, more than half of which are single-owner operations. Ironically, state and local governments will also experience reduced tax revenue, since nicotine purchases fuel more than a third of total sales at convenience stores across the state. 

If the vape tax is ultimately successful, businesses in Virginia and throughout the country will bear unacceptable financial consequences. Democrats should look to better solutions to pay for their spending bill that do not unfairly target law-abiding adult smokers and family-owned tobacco stores. 

Photo Credit: Sarah Johnson

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Democrats To Slug Poorest Americans WIth Tax Hikes & Create 2.75 Million Extra Smokers

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Sunday, September 12th, 2021, 10:28 PM PERMALINK

In a shocking display of callousness towards low income Americans, it was revealed tonight that one of the many ways Congressional Democrats plan to pay for their overspending is to slug the poorest and most vulnerable members of society with a staggering $96 billion dollar tax hike. To make matters even worse, not only is this a clear and blatant breach of President Biden’s promise to not raise taxes on persons earning under $400,000, academic modeling has shown that this proposal would lead to an extra 2.75 million Americans continuing to smoke deadly combustible cigarettes - with deadly consequences.

Small increases in projected revenue should never come at the expense of human lives. 

According to leaked documents, Congressional Democrats plan to double the Federal tobacco tax. Not only has data from National Adult Tobacco Surveys consistently demonstrated that increasing tobacco taxes no longer has ANY impact on smoking rates, 72% of smokers are from low-income communities. To increase taxes on people unable to quit as they are struggling with the costs of the Covid-19 pandemic will put unnecessary hardship on families who are already struggling to make ends meet. Even former President Obama remarked when he was in office: "The last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole." Yet this proposal flies in the face of that sage advice from the 44th President.

In fact, evidence shows that the only impact cigarette tax increases have is to lead to a boom for criminal syndicates selling illicit black market tobacco products.  Contrary to popular belief that tobacco smuggling is a victimless crime, 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”.  As a result, tobacco tax increases almost never reach the projected revenue goals: Only three out of 32 state tobacco increases studied met tax revenue estimates.

But that’s only the start of it: To make matters worse, Congressional Democrats also plan to tax people who try to save their lives by quitting smoking through the use of reduced risk tobacco alternatives. Electronic cigarettes have been proven to be at least 95% safer than combustible cigarettes, and between 3 and 7 times more effective than traditional nicotine replacement therapies. For this reason they have been endorsed by over 50 of the world’s leading public health organizations as safer than smoking and an effective way to help smokers quit. A large-scale analysis from the US’s top cancer researches coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Center found that 6.6 million American lives can be saved if a majority of cigarette smokers switched to vaping.

Rather than follow international best practices and encourage smokers to quit through using these lifesaving alternatives to cigarettes, Congressional Democrats appear to want to instead penalize and tax them for doing so. It should be obvious that when something becomes more expensive, fewer people engage in that practice. This is why the National Bureau of Economic Research  studied Minnesota’s tax on vaping products and determined that the tax prevented 32,400 additional adult smokers from quitting smoking. Additionally, they found “consistent and robust evidence” that taxes on e-cigarettes increase smoking rates, decrease smoking cessation, and lead to more tobacco-related deaths. Researches then modeled the impact of the proposed e-cigarette tax if enacted nationally, determining it would deter some 2.75 million smokers from quitting. Yet that is what is currently been proposed.

If enacted, this proposal will not only hurt low income Americans, damage businesses already doing it tough, and be a boon to international criminal syndicates. As well as this, rather than reduce smoking rates, it would increase them and lead to a staggering 2.75 million more Americans smoking - and dying - as a result.

To condemn millions of Americans to death just to help pay for political pet projects is unconscionable. Everyone who believes in public health, sound public policy, and the fundamental rights of Americans to help save their own lives, should oppose this with every fiber of their being.

Photo Credit: Bill Gracey

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