RHODE ISLAND

 

TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION 101: RHODE ISLAND

January 9, 2020

Key Points: 

  • Rhode Island’s vaping industry provided more than $54 million in economic activity in 2018 while generating 271 direct vaping-related jobs. Sales of disposables and prefilled cartridges in Rhode Island exceeded $2.2 million in 2016.

  • As of October 3, RIDH has reported two vaping-related lung illnesses, including age ranges. RIDH notes the role of THC in the outbreak, but does not provide thorough data. RIDH earns a C for its reporting on vaping-related lung illnesses.

  • In 2019, 7.3 percent of Rhode Island high school students reported daily use of vapor products; nearly 70 percent reported not using e-cigarettes. Only 4.5 percent cited flavors as a reason for e-cigarette use.

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

  • Rhode Island spends very little on tobacco prevention. In 2019, Rhode Island dedicated only $390,926 on tobacco control, or less than 1 percent of what the state received in tobacco settlement payments and taxes.

RHODE ISLAND’S FLAVOR BAN UNLIKELY TO IMPACT VAPING HOSPITALIZATIONS AS MORE STATES LINK ILLNESSES TO THC PRODUCTS

October 7, 2019
  • On October 4, 2019, the Rhode Island Department of Health issued “emergency health regulations banning the sale of flavored” electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.

  • The ban on flavored e-cigarette products will be in effect for 120 days, “and can be extended for an additional 60 days.”

  • Flavor bans do not reduce youth e-cigarette use.

    • Santa Clara County, California, banned flavored tobacco product sales to age-restricted stores in 2014. Despite this, youth e-cigarette use increased while the ban was in effect. For example, in the 2015-16, 7.5 percent of Santa Clara high school students reported current use of e-cigarettes. In the 2017-18, this increased to 10.7 percent.

  • Many states and the CDC have linked a majority, if not all, of such hospitalizations to the use of products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

  • Policymakers should utilize existing tobacco moneys on programs to reduce youth e-cigarette use. In 2019, Rhode Island received an estimated $195 million in tobacco settlement payments and taxes. In the same year, the Ocean State spent only $390,926, or 0.02 percent, on tobacco control programs including education and prevention efforts.

TOBACCO TAX INCREASES WOULD HURT LOW INCOME PERSONS, VAPORIZE HARM REDUCTION IN RHODE ISLAND

May 17, 2019
  • House Bill 5151 would increase the cigarette tax by $0.25 from $4.25 to $4.50 per pack, increase the tax on cigars by $0.30 to $0.80 per cigar, and create a new 40 percent wholesale tax on e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

  • Although taxes on tobacco products can lead to short-term revenue boosts, Ocean State lawmakers should not rely on them as steady revenue streams because they are extremely erratic and regressive.

  • Cigarette taxes are highly regressive and disproportionately impact lower-income persons.

    • A Cato Journal article found that from “2010 to 2011, smokers earning less than $30,000 per year spent 14.2 percent of their household income cigarettes.

    • Smokers that earned between $30,000 and $59,999 spent 4.3 percent, and those earning more than $60,000 spent 2 percent of their income on cigarettes.

  • Tobacco and sin taxes are unreliable revenue sources over the long term. The National Taxpayers Union Foundation found from 2001 to 2011, “revenue projections were met in only 29 of 101 cases where cigarette/tobacco taxes were increased.”

  • Despite fearmongering campaigns, e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than combustible cigarettes. In 2015, Public Health England (PHE), a leading health authority in the UK, noted the use of e-cigarettes to be 95 percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes.

  • The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is the same public health group that first linked cigarettes to cancer in 1962. In 2016, RCP echoed PHE’s claims, finding health-related hazards associated with e-cigarettes “unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm [caused by] smoking.” RCP noted “in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes.

  • Rhode Island spends little tobacco moneys on helping smokers quit.

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©2020 by Tobacco Harm Reduction 101.