LOUISIANA PROPOSAL WOULD RESTRICT

ADULT ACCESS TO

TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION PRODUCTS

May 15, 2020

By: Lindsey Stroud

KEY POINTS:

  • House Bill 799 would require sales of flavored e-cigarettes to be sold only at retail establishments “were people under 18 years of age are prohibited.” The legislation does not include menthol, mint, and tobacco-flavored vapor products.

  • The legislation would also require that manufacturers of e-liquids and vapor products that reside outside of Louisiana to “apply to the state office of alcohol and tobacco control for a permit to engage in delivery sales of e-liquid and vapor products.”

  • The most recent report on youth e-cigarette use in Louisiana is from the 2019 Youth Vaping Report. In 2019, 31.6 percent of Louisiana high school students reported using a vapor product on at least one day in the 30 days prior to the survey.

    • 54.2 percent of Louisiana high school students reported using vapor products because of “curiosity” and not because of flavors.

  • According to the 2017 Louisiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey, in 2017, only 1.4 percent Louisiana high school students reported daily e-cigarette use.

  • Evidence continues to indicate that youth are not using e-cigarettes because of flavors, but rather due to social reasons and peer pressure. For example, a May 2020 “research letter” published in JAMA surveyed 1,129 youth aged between 14 and 24 years old. Only 4.7 percent of respondents cited “flavors” as a reason for using JUUL, compared to 62.2 percent of respondents that reported using JUUL due to “social reasons.”

  • Should legislators truly want to address youth vapor product use, they ought to start investing more of existing tobacco monies in tobacco control efforts.

  • In 2019, Louisiana received an estimated $459.6 million in tobacco taxes and settlement payments. In the same year, the Pelican State dedicated only $5.4 million in state funding, or 1 percent, to tobacco control programs, including education and prevention.

  • In 2018, tobacco companies spent $189.3 million on marketing their products in Louisiana.

  • In 2018, the vapor industry created 1,301 direct vaping-related jobs, including manufacturing, retail, and wholesale jobs in Louisiana, which generated $45 million in wages alone. 

  • The vapor industry has created hundreds of secondary jobs in the Pelican State, bringing the total economic impact in 2018 to $492,639,500. In the same year, Louisiana received more than $23 million in state taxes attributable to the vaping industry.

New legislation has been introduced in the Pelican State that aims to regulate flavored electronic cigarettes and vapor products. House Bill 799 would require sales of flavored e-cigarettes to be sold only at retail establishments “were people under 18 years of age are prohibited.” The legislation does not include menthol, mint, and tobacco-flavored vapor products.

The legislation would also require that manufacturers of e-liquids and vapor products that reside outside of Louisiana to “apply to the state office of alcohol and tobacco control for a permit to engage in delivery sales of e-liquid and vapor products.”

Similar to other states, this legislation is meant to deter youth use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices, but it would severely restrict adult access to tobacco harm reduction products and burden rural residents that may not have access to brick-and-mortar retail establishments. Moreover, e-cigarettes are a tobacco harm reduction tool and their use should be encouraged - not restricted.

Although a fearmongering campaign has alluded to massive “epidemic” of teen e-cigarette use, Louisiana youth are overwhelmingly not using vapor products. The most recent report on youth e-cigarette use in Louisiana is from the 2019 Youth Vaping Report. According to the report, in 2019, 31.6 percent of Louisiana high school students reported using a vapor product on at least one day in the 30 days prior to the survey. Moreover, 54.2 percent of Louisiana high school students reported using vapor products because of “curiosity” and not because of flavors.

There is no data on frequent or current use in the 2019 report, but according to the 2017 Louisiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey, in 2017, only 1.4 percent Louisiana high school students reported daily e-cigarette use. More data is needed to understand the effects of public health campaigns on youth e-cigarette use.

Further, evidence continues to indicate that youth are not using e-cigarettes because of flavors, but rather due to social reasons and peer pressure. For example, a May 2020 “research letter” published in JAMA surveyed 1,129 youth aged between 14 and 24 years old. Only 4.7 percent of respondents cited “flavors” as a reason for using JUUL, compared to 62.2 percent of respondents that reported using JUUL due to “social reasons.” This is consistent with other recent data. In an analysis of five state surveys on youth e-cigarette use, only 15.6 percent of high school students cited using e-cigarettes because of flavors.

Flavors are an important tool for adults use of e-cigarettes. Indeed, in a survey of nearly 70,000 American adult vapors, 83.2 percent and 72.3 percent of survey respondents reported vaping fruit and dessert flavors, respectively, “at least some of the time.”  

Should legislators truly want to address youth vapor product use, they ought to start investing more of existing tobacco monies in tobacco control efforts. For example, in 2019, Louisiana received an estimated $459.6 million in tobacco taxes and settlement payments. In the same year, the Pelican State dedicated only $5.4 million in state funding, or 1 percent, to tobacco control programs, including education and prevention. In 2018, tobacco companies spent $189.3 million on marketing their products in Louisiana.

Electronic cigarettes and vaping devices are a tobacco harm reduction product. Numerous public health organizations have found their use to be significantly less harmful than combustible cigarettes.

Public Health England (PHE), a leading health organization in the UK, was one of the first public health agencies to examine the health effects of e-cigarettes. In 2015, PHE declared that “the current best estimate [shows] using e-cigarettes is around 95% safer than smoking.” In 2018, PHE reiterated this claim, finding “vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.”

Other public health organizations including the Royal College of Physicians and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have acknowledged the reduced harm of e-cigarettes. Indeed, in 2019, the American Cancer Society noted that  “e-cigarette use [is] significantly less harmful for adults than smoking regular cigarettes […] because e-cigarettes do not contain or burn tobacco.”  

​Moreover, the vapor industry has been an economic boon to Louisiana’s economy. According to the Vapor Technology Association, in 2018, the industry created 1,301 direct vaping-related jobs, including manufacturing, retail, and wholesale jobs in Louisiana, which generated $45 million in wages alone. Moreover, the industry has created hundreds of secondary jobs in the Pelican State, bringing the total economic impact in 2018 to $492,639,500. In the same year, Louisiana received more than $23 million in state taxes attributable to the vaping industry.

Rather than restricting adult access to tobacco harm reduction tools, Louisiana lawmakers should address their state’s lack of tobacco control funding. There is an overwhelming amount of existing tobacco monies that can be diverted into programs that can address youth e-cigarette use while maintaining adult access to tools that have helped millions of American adults quit smoking.

Nothing in this analysis is intended to is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of Tobacco Harm Reduction 101. For more information on vapor products in the Pelican State, please visit Tobacco Harm Reduction 101’s Louisiana page at www.thr101.org/louisiana.

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©2020 by Tobacco Harm Reduction 101.