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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FDA Devastates Lifesaving Vapor Industry

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Posted by Tim Andrews on Friday, September 10th, 2021, 2:59 PM PERMALINK

Yesterday, in a devastating blow to public health, President Biden's FDA bowed to radical anti-science political activists late yesterday and refused to grant PMTA authorizations to any life-saving reduced risk tobacco alternative vaping product. As a result, it is now illegal to sell any vaping product in the United States.

While the FDA has already rejected many applications hundreds of companies remain in limbo as the FDA refuses to finalize their applications, despite a September 9 deadline. It is now illegal to sell any vaping product without FDA authorization.

These outrageous now regulations were imposed even though these products are proven to be 95% safer than combustible tobacco, 3-7 times more effective than other nicotine replacement therapies, and, according to Georgetown University Medical Center, having the potential to save up to 6.6 million American lives. For this reason, they are endorsed by over 50 of the world’s leading medical organizations.  And it is now illegal to sell any of them.

While the FDA has stated it will use its discretion in enforcing the law while outstanding applications are pending, so far, it has rejected every application it has ruled upon. Moreover, in its rulings, it has demanded that individual vape manufacturers would have needed to supply a “randomized controlled trial or longitudinal cohort study,” costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, for every product, variety, or strength or e-liquid a manufacturer develops. Even the smallest of vape stores sell hundreds of different products. In order to have any chance of approval, they would have to spend over a hundred million dollars – something impossible.

As a result, it is now almost certain that thousands of independent vape shops will shut down. Millions of former smokers who rely on vaping devices will gradually return to smoking, with deadly consequences.

Smoking kills seven million Americans annually - twice as many as have been killed thus far by the Covid-29 Pandemic. For the FDA to rule that tens of millions of smokers will be unable to quit their deadly habit through a scientifically proven reduced risk alternative will leave a long-term death toll far higher than Covid ever would.

Photo Credit: Vaping 360

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Bloomberg Exposed for Foreign Meddling in Tobacco and Vaping Policy in the Philippines

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Wednesday, September 1st, 2021, 8:21 PM PERMALINK

The philanthropic wing of American billionaire Mike Bloomberg, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has been exposed for effectively buying off the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines in exchange for the implementation of unpopular, anti-science policies related to tobacco and nicotine products. In a report approved by a committee of the Filipino legislature, lawmakers expressed outrage and demanded an investigation into the scheme, a signal that there may be more evidence yet to be presented regarding Bloomberg’s money-driven influence over Philippines’ FDA. 

The report, which was overwhelmingly approved by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, outlined how FDA and Bloomberg Philanthropies colluded, using regulatory methods, to discriminate against the legal tobacco industry. In the process, Bloomberg Philanthropies and their associates at FDA violated Philippine law. There is now an opportunity for Philippine authorities to hold Bloomberg and his allies legally accountable for their infringements. 

It has long been public knowledge that Mike Bloomberg holds radical anti-tobacco views. Unfortunately, his opinions extend to non-combustible nicotine products like e-cigarettes, Swedish snus, heated tobacco products (HTP’s), and pouches. E-cigarettes have been shown to be at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes, and an incredibly effective method of getting people who smoke to quit. Swedish snus is a clean tobacco product that exposes users to significantly less toxins than cigarettes and is the reason why Sweden has one of the lowest lung cancer rates in the world. Similarly, HTP’s reduce the user's exposure to harmful chemicals by heating, rather than burning, tobacco to create a vapor.  

Mike Bloomberg, however, could care less about the lifesaving impacts that reduced harm alternatives have. His policy proposals make it clear thar he would prefer smokers die from their addiction than make the switch to a safer product. His actions in the Philippines are proof that he will stop at nothing to use his money to purchase influence over the policies of sovereign countries. As some have put it, Bloomberg utilizes a unique method of “philanthro-colonialism” to gain control over a country’s political system under the guise of “philanthropy” intended to improve the lives of their citizens. 

Key findings from the report can be read below, while the full report can be accessed here

  • The Committee determined that the decision by FDA to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies was questionable due to Bloomberg’s “avowed policy to ban or restrict the use of tobacco and novel tobacco products”. 

  • FDA failed to disclose, in detail, its receipt of foreign donation. This is a potential violation of Philippine law and the report calls on the State Auditor General to investigate the validity of FDA’s receipt. 

  • In response to Bloomberg’s scheme, the Committee recommended the Filipino Congress pass a bill prohibiting foreign donors from engaging in donation-for-policy conspiracies with government offices. 

  • Bloomberg Philanthropies violated Philippine law by not obtaining the necessary registration permits to lobby the government as a foreign agent. This is direct breach of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. 

  • The report recommends mandating FDA and Ministry of Health to disclose all foreign donations with detailed receipts.  

The report sends a strong warning to FDA that they must now act with full transparency. They cannot accept monetary grants from anti-tobacco groups, or any groups, in exchange for implementing predetermined policies. The decision to release the report now is timely as the Philippine Senate is currently considering a bill that would remove FDA’s ability to regulate e-cigarettes, vaping products, and HTP’s.  

Supporters of government transparency are pushing for this bill to pass, as it would force Philippine authorities to consider the overwhelming science and data in support of these products. Should FDA be allowed to determine such regulations, that data would almost surely be pushed aside in favor of Bloomberg’s extremist ideology. The public health ramifications of that would be catastrophic. 

Sadly, Bloomberg’s philanthro-colonialism is not unique to the Philippines. Bloomberg Philanthropies has donated more than three billion dollars to the World Health Organization, a significant portion of that going towards a “Bloomberg Initiative to reduce tobacco”. 

In Armenia, where more than half of all men smoke cigarettes, restrictive vaping laws have begun to emerge. According to Armenia’s Health Minister, their funding for tobacco control comes from the World Health Organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK). CTFK receives nearly all their funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies.  

In Vietnam, Bloomberg’s “deep collaboration with government and local organizations” resulted in a plan, currently under consideration, to completely prohibit all e-cigarettes. As a result, millions of Armenians and Vietnamese will unnecessarily die from cigarette smoking as they are actively being discouraged from making the lifesaving switch to vaping. 

It is near certain that the same tactics Bloomberg utilized in the Philippines are being used by groups funded by him in dozens of other countries around the world. Those nations would be well served by enacting the same stringent policies protecting against pay-for-play schemes related to tobacco products, or any industry for that matter, as are currently under consideration in the Philippine Congress. As is evident in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Armenia, millions of lives depend on legislators taking a stand against the undue influence of foreign wealth over a nation’s domestic policies. 

Photo Credit: Center for American Progress

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Colorado’s Nicotine Tax Debacle is Hurting Working Families

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Wednesday, August 18th, 2021, 1:22 PM PERMALINK

When Colorado voters approved a vast increase in the state’s tobacco and nicotine tax, opponents of the proposal voiced concern that the hike would fall short of projected revenue as seen in countless other states. They were right. According to a data analysis from The Colorado Sun, Colorado’s exorbitant tax hike on cigarettes and other nicotine-containing products has generated significantly less tax revenue than promised. Originally billed as an opportunity for the state to fund universal preschool, lower-than-expected revenues are an early sign that this policy is well on its way to being a failure for Colorado and a headache for lawmakers and activists who threw their support behind the tax hike. 

Proposition EE, which passed by a wide margin as a ballot initiative last November, increased the tax rate on cigarettes by 230%, from $0.84 per pack to $1.94, effective January 2021. The tax will continue to rise incrementally until 2027 when it will level out at $2.64 per pack. The measure also increased the tax rate on other tobacco products from 40% of market price to 62%. 

Also included in the proposition was the implementation of a 62% tax rate on vaping devices and refillable e-liquid. Previously, vaping products were exempt from tobacco taxes in Colorado. Implementing a tax rate on e-cigarettes equal to the rate on tobacco products is problematic for multiple reasons.  

For one, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco and therefore should not be classified as such for tax purposes. Secondly, e-cigarettes and vaping products have been shown to be at least 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Exempting vapes from taxes or taxing them at a significantly lower rate than tobacco incentivizes people who use tobacco to make the switch to a less harmful alternative.  

Health advocates, who overwhelmingly supported the proposition, argued that the tax hikes will reduce tobacco and nicotine use, despite evidence demonstrating otherwise. Data has consistently shown that tobacco tax increases have no statistically significant impact on the prevalence of smoking among those with household incomes less than $25,000 and 72% of smokers are from low-income communities.  

For these folks, increasing taxes on products they are addicted to puts unnecessary hardship on them and their families. At a time when they can least afford it due to the economic brought about by the Covid-19 that most affected poorer, working-class individuals, this tobacco tax hike is particularly cruel. For this reason, the progressive group Working Families Party of Colorado advocated against the proposition. 

Governor Jared Polis, one of the main proponents of the measure, said that the disproportionate impact that tobacco taxes have on low-income families, and by effect low-income children, would be offset by gaining access to preschool from increased tax revenue. So far, Governor Polis is being proven wrong. Even if revenues increase, and there is no reason to expect them to, funding for preschool won’t begin until 2023 at the earliest. It is surely little consolation to working families struggling to make ends meet today that their children might be able to attend preschool years in the future. 

Unfortunately, one organization that rallied support for increasing the tax rate was Mental Health Colorado, a group that claims to be the state’s leading advocate in ensuring equitable access to health care for those struggling from mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. This organization either does not know, or chose to ignore, the data showing e-cigarettes to be particularly helpful at getting people with mental health issues, who smoke at rates three to four times higher than the national average, to quit the deadly habit of cigarette use. 

Other groups that threw their support behind the initiative included the American Federation of Teachers Colorado and the Colorado Education Association, who said that taxing vaping products would decrease vape use among teenagers. While teenage vaping is harmful and should be discouraged, there is clear evidence that restrictive vaping laws increase youth cigarette smoking, subjecting them to more harm than e-cigarettes could ever cause. 

Another concerning aspect of the tax hike is the impact on organized crime and smuggling. It is highly likely that increased smuggling of tobacco products has contributed to the failure to meet expected tax revenue. A large-scale analysis from the Tax Foundation showed that excessive tax rates on cigarettes “induces substantially black and gray market movement”. Most tobacco smuggling is run by multi-million-dollar organized crime syndicates who also engage in human trafficking, money laundering, and use their profits to fund terrorism. The US State Department has gone so far as to declare tobacco smuggling a “threat to national security”.  

Sadly, Colorado is not finished increasing tobacco taxes and restricting access to reduced risk alternatives to cigarettes. Over the next six years, the cigarette tax will climb an additional 136% and tax rates on tobacco products and e-cigarettes will rise as well. While there is no easy method of stopping these harmful policies, lawmakers and voters in other states must make note of the disastrous effects of Colorado’s tax hike and avoid enacting similar measures in their states. 

Photo Credit: IslandWorks

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STUDY: Restrictive Vaping Laws Will Increase Cigarette Smoking Among Young Adults

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Tuesday, August 10th, 2021, 4:21 PM PERMALINK

A new study from researchers at George Washington University and Stanford University is indicating that e-cigarette restrictions would have devastating effects on the health of young adults. Just last week, the highly esteemed Journal on Nicotine & Tobacco Research accepted an article manuscript that examines the potential impacts of vape prohibitions on cigarette and vaping use among 18-34 year olds. According to the study, a ban on flavored vaping products would cause 33.2% of young adult e-cigarette users to completely switch to traditional cigarettes and 39.4% would switch to cigarettes should all vape sales be restricted. 

The researchers noted that there are likely unintended consequences of restrictions on vaping. These include e-cigarette users switching to traditional cigarettes and youth initiation of traditional cigarettes rather than vaping products. Anti-vaping laws are often framed as legislation that will improve the health of young people, but ample evidence is emerging that demonstrates such laws have an opposite effect. 

In San Francisco, a ban on flavored tobacco products led to stark increases in youth smoking rates and more than doubled the odds of young people engaging in the deadly habit of cigarettes smoking. E-cigarettes have been shown to be at least 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes, therefore, use of e-cigarettes among young adults, which should be discouraged, is clearly preferable to cigarette use. 

The concerning findings from this most recent study are a critical addition to the ever-growing academic and scientific literature on vaping and tobacco use and should be acknowledged by lawmakers who seek to implement restrictive measures on e-cigarettes. The main findings of the study can be read below, while the full study is available here

Key Findings

  • If the sale of flavored vaping products was prohibited, 33.2% of young adult e-cigarette users would “very likely or somewhat likely” switch to traditional cigarettes. 

  • An additional 14.9% of users would switch to cigarettes while continuing to use e-cigarettes.  

  • If all vape product sales were restricted, 39.4% of e-cigarette users would likely switch to traditional cigarettes. 38.9% of e-cigarette users reported not at all likely to switch to traditional cigarettes. 

  • Survey participants who viewed a greater number of media reports about vaping, which spread misinformation and often use fear-based messaging, were more concerned with the health impacts of vaping and more likely to support restrictive vaping laws. 

The researchers, four of whom work at George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health and one from Stanford University School of Medicine, utilized data from over two thousand survey respondents from six metropolitan areas in the United States. The locations (Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, San Diego, and Seattle) were selected due to variation in state policies regarding e-cigarettes and tobacco products. San Diego and Boston have stringent measures in place, while Oklahoma City and Atlanta have largely avoided implementing restrictive policies.  

The group most supportive of restrictive vaping laws is parents of teenage children. They falsely believe that such laws would keep their children safe and improve the health of young adults across the country. The findings of this study, paired with real-world evidence from San Francisco, show that bans on vape sales will do significantly more harm than good.  

While the researchers did not go so far as to declare restrictive vape laws as harmful to public health, they did state that young adult users of e-cigarettes “may not experience benefit” from these policies.  

Understanding the potential impacts of public policy is crucial. While more research should, and will, be done to further examine the impacts of bans on various e-cigarette products, the evidence is growing clearer. The laws that legislators claim are necessary to “protect the children” are increasing cigarette consumption among young people and subjecting them to immense amounts of harm. In the interests of public health, these laws, and those who spread lies and misinformation to promote them, must be thoroughly rejected.

Photo Credit: Corporación de Radio y Televisión Española

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Taxpayer Funded WHO Colludes with Mike Bloomberg to Stop Smokers from Quitting

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Friday, August 6th, 2021, 3:00 PM PERMALINK

The coronavirus outbreak and resulting worldwide pandemic has resulted in more than four million deaths, including 612,000 Americans. In the early days of the pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) arrested journalists and doctors who dared to tell the world about the deadly virus that was spreading across China. The CCP blocked information about the virus on social media sites and removed news stories reporting accurate infection data. By the time the world was finally made aware of the danger Covid-19 posed, it was far too late. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the murderous and authoritarian CCP deserves recognition for the “transparency” and “leadership” they showed in the face of a deadly virus. WHO publicly said that China’s oppressive regime was “making us safer” from Covid. The four million people who have died thanks to CCP recklessness would surely disagree. 

Unfortunately, WHO isn’t finished repressing opportunities to save lives. Just three days ago, on July 27, WHO released their eighth global tobacco report, focused on reducing global access to reduced harm tobacco products and alternatives to tobacco. There are 1.1 billion people in the world who smoke cigarettes every single day, an all-time high. In 2019, eight million people died as a result of smoking. Thanks to WHO, millions more will die without access to these lifesaving alternatives. 

Just imagine how corrupt an organization would need to be to actively work against lifesaving technology. Fortunately, there is ample evidence demonstrating exactly who is influencing WHO tobacco control policy and how they are doing it. Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former Mayor of New York City, and his multi-billion-dollar “charity” Bloomberg Philanthropies funded, and contributed to, the WHO report and have used their massive endowment to exert undue influence over low- and middle-income countries that are more vulnerable to philanthropic pressure.  

The WHO report is only one example of Bloomberg using his wealth to global health policy. In January 2021, Philippine Food and Drug Administration officials revealed that they have been receiving money from the Bloomberg Initiative and The Union, charities funded by Bloomberg himself. According to reports, the funds were bestowed on the condition that the Philippine government implemented Bloomberg-sanctioned tobacco control policies. While the Philippines are one of the first countries where Bloomberg’s pseudo-colonialism have been publicly exposed, the former Mayor and failed 2020 Presidential candidate has been pouring money into dark money groups for years in pursuit of prohibitionist policies. 

WHO’s report is filled with downright lies about e-cigarettes. In one section, the report states that “The outbreak of electronic-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) in the United States in 2019–2020 highlights the potential dangers associated with (e-cigarettes)”. There is zero evidence that EVALI is the result of nicotine-containing e-cigarette use. Rather, illicit THC vaping products containing Vitamin E-Acetate have been identified as the culprit behind the outbreak. This is common knowledge among the scientific and health community. The report also attempts to tie “popcorn lung” to e-cigarette use, even though there has never been a case of popcorn lung resulting from vaping. WHO is more interested in following Bloomberg’s misguided ideology than sharing the truth about vaping. 

It is truly inconceivable that WHO would allow a prohibitionist like Mike Bloomberg to fund a report that will have incredible influence over the policies of dozens of countries. Bloomberg, and by extension WHO, would prefer to see the one billion global smokers die from cigarettes than switch to an alternative that reduces their exposure to harmful chemicals. 

There are, however, countries that have embraced, or at the very least tolerated, vaping products and other safer alternatives and have seen incredible improvements in public health as a result.  

WHO’s report claims that evidence is “inconclusive” that e-cigarettes help smokers quit, yet 2.4 million British smokers have quit cigarettes with vaping. Even as cigarette smoking has increased globally in the last few years, England has seen a dramatic decrease in smoking prevalence thanks to vaping. The British government has embraced vaping as a method of smoking cessation, publicizing data demonstrating that vaping is 95% less harmful than cigarettes and two to four times more effective at helping smokers quit than traditional nicotine replacement therapies. 

In Japan, cigarette sales have decreased by 43% over the past five years, the greatest decrease in recorded history, as a result of heat-not-burn tobacco products that significantly reduces exposure to harmful chemicals compared to cigarette smoking.  

A form of “clean” smokeless tobacco called snus contains less toxins than other tobacco products and is highly popular among Swedish men. Sweden has the lowest rate of lung cancer in the developed world.   

The World Health Organization knows this, of course. Just how they knew that China was arresting journalists, making truth-telling doctors disappear, and shutting down the spread of information that would have alerted the world to the once-in-a-generation pandemic that would soon sweep the globe.  

This much is clear, the World Health Organization is more interested in lining their own pockets than saving lives. The United States, currently the largest contributor to WHO’s budget, cannot in good conscience continue to fund their willful ignorance that continually costs lives all over the world. American taxpayers must demand that the U.S. defund, or at least suspend, funding to WHO until they commit to expanded transparency and true pro-science policies. 

Photo Credit: United States Mission Geneva

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ATR Opposes Congressional Effort to Keep Adults Smoking Cigarettes

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Thursday, July 29th, 2021, 4:55 PM PERMALINK

Earlier today, Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to the United States Senate in opposition to the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act, legislation that takes aim at e-cigarette manufacturers and the lifesaving products they produce. Should the proposal be enacted, vape manufacturers would be required to pay user fees to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would be used to increase awareness of the “danger” of e-cigarettes, even though vaping has been conclusively shown to be 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes. 

While it is obvious that underage persons should not be consuming e-cigarettes, this bill would lead to an increase cigarette consumption, harming the health of American youths more than e-cigarettes ever could. 

Tim Andrews, ATR’s Director of Consumer Issues, wrote: “It would be incredibly cruel to force e-cigarette manufacturers to fund FDA misinformation. The products that these businesses creating are saving lives every day. Further, e-cigarettes have the potential to decrease socioeconomic disparities in healthcare by aiding disadvantaged populations with smoking cessation.” 

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and is responsible for roughly 480,000 deaths every year. Public policy, particularly when related to public health, must take into account all available data and evidence. This proposal fails to consider the lifesaving benefits of e-cigarettes. It will keep adults smoking, and dying from, traditional cigarettes.” 

Andrews concluded: “E-cigarettes are not tobacco products. There is no reason for Congress to impose rules and regulations that treat them as such. Vaping products are the most effective method of helping smokers quit the deadly habit of cigarettes and there is zero evidence demonstrating e-cigarettes are a pathway to cigarette smoking. Rather, more than 60 public health organizations agree that e-cigarettes are a pathway away from smoking. In the interests of public health, we call upon you to accept the science and vote against the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act. Millions of lives quite literally depend upon it.” 

The full letter can be read here.

Photo Credit: David Maiolo

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Members of Congress Promote Cigarette Smoking with Push to Vilify Vape Businesses

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Thursday, July 29th, 2021, 3:53 PM PERMALINK

On July 23, 2021, a group of eight bipartisan legislators in the United States Senate and House of Representatives introduced the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act, legislation that would force e-cigarette manufacturers to fund an anti-vaping misinformation campaign with fees paid to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

A press release that accompanied the introduction of the bill contained numerous myths, misconceptions, and downright lies about e-cigarettes and the vaping industry. It is highly disappointing that the six U.S. Senators and two Representatives sponsoring the legislation have chosen to engage in fear-based deception, rather than accepting the science on e-cigarettes.  

However, the problem is larger than just a few misguided lawmakers. More than half of adult cigarette smokers, the people for who vaping was invented, believe that e-cigarettes are at least as harmful, or more harmful, than traditional cigarettes. This could not be farther from the truth, as vaping has been scientifically shown to be 95% safer than cigarettes.  

Legislation like the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act exacerbates this problem and will keep more adults smoking, and dying from, traditional cigarettes. As such, it is crucial to communicate the truth about vaping. Let’s examine some of the allegations from the press release. 

Claim: “Electronic nicotine devices should be subject to the same user fees that the FDA assesses on the manufacturers and importers of cigarettes and other forms of tobacco” - Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) 

Truth: E-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes share very few characteristics. E-cigarettes heat a nicotine-containing liquid to create a vapor. Cigarettes have a combustion process which creates tar and other harmful chemicals that cause cancer, heart disease, and other serious illnesses. Vaping does not have a combustion process, allowing users to consume nicotine while decreasing the harm they are subjected to. Nicotine is not a carcinogen. Rather, it is a highly addictive but relatively benign substance, much like caffeine, that does not cause short or long-term harm when separated from the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes. 

Claim: “We know the numbers – more and more teens and high school students are using vapor products.” - Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) 

Truth: Clearly, Senator Murkowski does not know the numbers. According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of underage persons who had vaped nicotine in the past 30 days decreased by 27.2% between 2019 and 2020. National Youth Tobacco Survey Data, the most recent data available, shows that past-30-day youth vaping rates are lower today than they were in 2015. 

Claim: “Big Vape has hooked nearly four million kids on e-cigarettes, creating a vaping epidemic that is threatening our next generation with a lifetime of nicotine addiction and disease.” - Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) 

Truth: Senator Durbin’s attempt to demonize vaping manufacturers by branding them “Big Vape” is unequivocally false. The Small Business Administration, a government agency that provides support to American entrepreneurs, has correctly noted that “small businesses created the (vaping) industry and have been drivers of the industry’s major innovations”. 

More Truth: There are not four million kids “hooked” on e-cigarettes. Senator Durbin would like you to believe that a teenager who vapes once or twice a month is addicted to vaping but that, of course, is not true. Approximately 3% of teenagers are daily users of vape products and 67% of daily users previously smoked cigarettes. Obviously, no teenagers should be using vaping products but teenage cigarette smokers who switch to vaping are reducing the harm they are exposed to. Senator Durbin would prefer they smoke. 

Even More Truth: There is zero evidence that vaping causes disease. Shockingly, Senator Durbin is wrong once again. 

The bill was introduced by U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (IL-17), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01). 

Shortly after the bill was introduced, Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, urging them to oppose this disastrous proposal. That letter can be read here

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ATR Leads Coalition Urging PMTA Enforcement Extension

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Posted by Karl Abramson on Thursday, July 1st, 2021, 1:44 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform today led a coalition of 23 organizations urging the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to follow the common-sense recommendations of the Small Business Administration and seek a court order to allow vaping manufacturers to keep products on the market while their Pre Market Tobacco Authorizations (PMTA) reviews are in progress.  The FDA has acknowledged it is unlikely to complete all authorizations by the September 9 deadline, meaning thousands of businesses, who did the right thing, and completed all legal requirements, would be prohibited from selling their life-saving products merely due to FDA delays in processing their application. 

The letter acknowledged that FDA has promised to exercise discretion in enforcement, but asserted that, “This does not provide the degree of certainty necessary for businesses who have complied with all relevant regulations and have not received authorization due to processing delays by FDA. If an extension is not granted, there could be devastating consequences for businesses, particularly small businesses. Furthermore, any potential reduction in the supply of safe alternatives to tobacco could have a negative impact on public health across the United States and lead to an increase in tobacco-related mortality.” 

The letter continued, “There is no final rule in place governing the PMTA process and therefore it is possible that a significant number of products may be removed from the market following the deadline. Millions of consumers who depend on ENDS products for their health and thousands of businesses who depend on these products for their livelihood are threatened by this needless bureaucratic uncertainty. The only sure way to avert a disastrous outcome is for the FDA to obtain a court order allowing it to extend the existing moratorium on enforcement by another year.” 

The vaping industry,” the letter notes, “unlike many others, was created by small businesses, and these same small businesses continue to drive innovation in the market. Without these entrepreneurs, the vape industry will be consolidated into a few large corporations, causing prices to rise and consumer choice to decrease.” 

The letter concluded by drawing attention to the science on vaping, which shows e-cigarettes to be 95% safer than combustible cigarettes and two to four times as effective at helping smokers quit than traditional nicotine replacement therapies. With the potential to save 6.6 million American lives, according to an analysis from Georgetown University Medical Center, and reduce socioeconomic disparities in healthcare, adult access to vaping must be preserved.  

The full letter and list of signatories can be read here

Photo Credit: ABC News

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