Vaping products, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices that people use to inhale aerosol which contains nicotine and flavorings, they might not contain nicotine. Recently, vaping devices have been so popular worldwide because they are safer than traditional cigarettes, and also people use them to quit smoking.
Last week, the Georgia Senate voted to impose a 7% tax on vaping products and raise the age limit to purchase both tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. Chickamauga Republican Sen said “Vaping was created to keep people off of tobacco, but it has become its own industry,” and Good or bad, right or wrong, it has, and for those who smoke a lot, this has curbed that. For those kids starting up, we want to curb that even more.”
Therefore, a tax increase was added to Mullis’ bill. This tax increase only included a tobacco and vaping age limit increase. After the pandemic lockdown, the Legislature maintained the 2020 session and some GOP senators suggested a cigarette tax hike so that it can help fill a projected $2.2 billion revenue shortfall.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brett Harrell said “Right, wrong or indifferent, that will not be a part of this bill,” and in parallel with Harrell’s position, Mullis said that a higher cigarette tax wouldn’t happen this year, but may happen in 2021 and he added, “I’d say that’s coming, probably next session, but no, no additional tobacco tax, no additional taxes on anything except excise funds for vaping products.”
Are Tobacco Taxes Really Effective?
According to the results of previous studies, research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (coincidentally co-authored by a researcher from Georgia) has pointed out that increasing taxes on safer products such as snus and e-cigarettes in order to stop vaping might be inefficient because this only causes people to returning back to traditional cigarettes, and it has been proved that traditional cigarettes are more harmful than vaping products.
Titled, “The Effects of E-Cigarette Taxes on E-Cigarette Prices and Tobacco Product Sales: Evidence from Retail Panel Data,” the study aimed to examine the effect of e-cigarette taxes which were applied in eight US states. The researchers examined the data from 35,000 national retailers between 2011 and 2017 and found that for every 10% increase in e-cigarette prices, e-cigarette sales dropped by 26%. However, the same 10% increase in e-cigarette prices caused an 11% increase in traditional cigarette sales. This means that vaping products help people quit traditional cigarettes and banning vaping or any increase in e-cigarette prices will be increasing the number of smokers.
“We estimate that for every e-cigarette pod no longer purchased as a result of an e-cigarette tax, 6.2 extra packs of cigarettes are purchased instead,” said concerned study co-author and economist from Georgia State University Michael Pesko.
As you can see, a ban on vaping products causes people to go back to traditional cigarettes, and it is known that traditional cigarettes are more harmful than vaping products such as e-cigarettes and snus. Also, people who use vaping devices tend to quit smoking.