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POLICY TIP SHEET: TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION 101: ARKANSAS

January 22, 2020

Analysis of the vapor industry in Arkansas, including economic data, state health department findings on vaping-related lung illnesses, youth e-cigarette use, tobacco retail compliance checks, and state funding dedicated to tobacco control programs.

 

Since their introduction to the U.S. market in 2007, e-cigarettes and vaping devices—tobacco harm reduction products that are 95 percent safer than combustible cigarettes—have helped more than three million American adults quit smoking.


1. Economic Impact
According to the Vapor Technology Association, in 2018, the industry created 553 direct vaping-related jobs, including manufacturing, retail, and wholesale jobs in Arkansas, which generated $17 million in wages alone.[1] Moreover, the industry has created hundreds of secondary jobs in the Natural State, bringing the total economic impact in 2018 to $157,333,900. In the same year, Arkansas received more than $9 million in state taxes attributable to the vaping industry. These figures do not include sales in convenience stores, which sell vapor products including disposables and prefilled cartridges. In 2016, sales of these products in Arkansas eclipsed $5 million.[2]


2. State Health Department Data
As of January 16, 2020, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has reported eight confirmed and 14 probable cases of vaping-related lung illnesses.[3] Although other state health departments have provided patient information—including age, gender, and substances vaped—ADH has only reported the total number of cases. This is alarming because many state health departments have already linked vaping-related lung illnesses to the use of products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and provided this information in their own updates. The Heartland Institute gives ADH a grade of F for information available on vaping-related lung illnesses.


3. More Information Needed
The most recent report on youth e-cigarette use in Arkansas is from the 2017 Arkansas Youth Risk Behavior Survey.[4] According to the survey, in 2017, 86.1 percent of Arkansas high school students reported not using a vapor product in the 30 days prior to the survey. Further, only 1.6 percent of Arkansas high school students reported using a vapor product all 30 days prior to the survey. More data is needed to understand the effects of public health campaigns on youth e-cigarette use.  


4. Youth Sales Miniscule
From January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administered 6,958 tobacco age compliance inspections in Arkansas, in which the agency used a minor in an attempt to purchase tobacco products.[5] Of those, 401, or 5 percent, resulted in a sale to a minor. Of the violations, 154 (38 percent of violations and 2 percent of all compliance checks) involved the sale of e-cigarettes or vaping devices. The number of violations involving sales of cigars and cigarettes were 186 and 60, respectively, during the same period.


5. Misspent Money
In 2019, Arkansas received an estimated $282.7 million in tobacco taxes and tobacco settlement payments. In the same year, the state spent only $12 million, or 4 percent, on funding tobacco control programs, including education and prevention.[6]


Policy Solution
Electronic cigarettes and vaping devices have proven to be tremendous tobacco harm reduction tools, helping many smokers transition away from combustible cigarettes. Despite recent fearmongering, their use is significantly safer than traditional cigarettes, as noted by numerous public health groups including the Royal College of Physicians,[7] Public Health England,[8] and the American Cancer Society.[9] Rather than restricting their use, and undoubtedly reducing public health gains and millions of dollars in economic output, lawmakers should dedicate existing tobacco funds on programs that actually reduce youth use.


Key Points:

1. Arkansas’s vaping industry provided more than $157 million in economic activity in 2018 while generating 553 direct vaping-related jobs. Sales of disposables and prefilled cartridges in Arkansas exceeded $5 million in 2016.

2. As of January 16, 2020, ADH has reported eight confirmed and 14 probable cases of vaping-related lung illnesses. ADH does not provide information on age, gender, and substances vaped. ADH earns an F for its lack of transparency on vaping-related lung illnesses.  

3. In 2017, only 1.6 percent of Arkansas high school students reported daily e-cigarette use. More data is needed.   

4. Only 2 percent of FDA retail compliance checks in Arkansas resulted in sales of e-cigarettes to minors from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019.

5. Arkansas spends very little on tobacco prevention. In 2019, Arkansas dedicated only $12 million on tobacco control, or 4 percent of what the state received in tobacco settlement payments and taxes.



References

[1] Vapor Technology Association, “The Economic Impact of the Vapor Industry ARKANSAS,” 2019, https://vta.guerrillaeconomics.net/reports/5a994b00-f58c-4542-a458-3f59aff4b250?.

[2] Teresa W. Wang et al., “National and State-Specific Unit Sales and Prices for Electronic Cigarettes, United States, 2012-2016,” Preventing Chronic Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 2, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2018/17_0555.htm.

[3] Arkansas Department of Health, “Vaping-Related Lung Illness Investigation,” January 16, 2020, https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/vaping-related-lung-illness. Accessed January 19, 2020.

[4] Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, “2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results Arkansas High School Survey,” Arkansas Department of Education, 2017, http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/public/userfiles/Learning_Services/School_Health_Services/YRBS/2017ARH_Detail_Tables.pdf.

[5] U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Compliance Check Inspections of Tobacco Product Retailers,” September 30, 2019, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/oce/inspections/oce_insp_searching.cfm.

[6] Truth Initiative, “Tobacco use in Arkansas,” June 28, 2019, https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/smoking-region/tobacco-use-arkansas-2019.

[7] Royal College of Physicians, Nicotine without Smoke: Tobacco Harm Reduction, April 2016, https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/nicotinewithout-smoke-tobacco-harm-reduction-0.

[8] A. McNeill et al., “Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018,” Public Health England, February 2018, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/684963/Evidence_review_of_e-cigarettes_and_heated_tobacco_products_2018.pdf.

[9] The American Cancer Society, “What Do We Know About E-Cigarettes?” June 19, 2019,  https://web.archive.org/web/20190806152535/https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/tobacco-and-cancer/e-cigarettes.html.


For more information, please refer to:


Tobacco Harm Reduction 101: A Guidebook for Policymakers
https://www.heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/latest-heartland-policy-booklet-addresses-vaping-myths
This booklet from The Heartland Institute aims to inform key stakeholders on the much-needed information on the benefits of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. Tobacco Harm Reduction 101 details the history of e-cigarettes, including regulatory actions on these products. The booklet also explains the role of nicotine, addresses tax policy and debunks many of the myths associated with e-cigarettes, including assertions about “popcorn lung,” formaldehyde, and the so-called youth vaping epidemic.

 
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©2020 by Tobacco Harm Reduction 101.