VIRGINIA

 

VIRGINIA SHOULD NOT RAISE TAXES ON TOBACCO PRODUCTS OR LEVY NEW TAXES ON TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION PRODUCTS

March 4, 2020
  • The amendment would increase the tax rate on cigarettes from $0.30 per pack to $0.60 per pack, and would also double the tax on other tobacco products, including moist snuff and loose leaf.

  • The legislation would also apply a new tax to components of vapor products, and would tax nicotine-containing e-liquid at a rate of $0.066 per fluid milliliter.

  • Cigarette taxes are highly regressive and disproportionately impact lower-income persons. Cato Journal article found from “2010 to 2011, smokers earning less than $30,000 per year spent 14.2 percent of their household income on cigarettes.” Smokers who earned $30,000 to $59,999 spent 4.3 percent, and those earning more than $60,000 spent just 2 percent of their income on cigarettes. 

  • Further, cigarette taxes are unreliable sources of revenue. 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.” 

  • Pew Charitable Trusts revealed a decline in cigarette consumption caused cigarette tax revenue “to drop by an average of about 1 percent across all states from 2008 to 2016.”

  • Funds generated by the proposed tax would be deposited into the Virginia Health Care Fund, which, in 2018, diverted the funds to the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program. Virginia lawmakers should be aware that the use of e-cigarettes can actually help reduce the Old Dominion State’s Medicaid burden.

  • Deeply problematic with the proposed excise tax on vapor products is that the proposed rate disproportionately impacts different types of vaping devices

  • Although lawmakers may feel that a tax of $0.066 is relatively low, later-generation open-system “mods” are disproportionately affected.

    • For example, a $0.066 tax on a 120-milligram bottle of nicotine-containing e-liquid would amount to a total tax of $7.92, but a pod system containing 0.5 milligrams of nicotine would only be subject to a $0.033 tax per pod.

  • Consumers can avoid the tax by adding their own nicotine to e-liquid solutions. One company that sells a “concentrated nicotine additive” advertises its product by stating “Don’t lose business because of outrageous nicotine taxes.” In essence, an adult consumer can purchase e-liquids with zero nicotine and only pay a tax on a 1 milliliter packet used in any size of e-liquid.

TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION 101: VIRGINIA

January 13, 2020

Key Points: 

  • Virginia’s vaping industry provided more than $632 million in economic activity in 2018 while generating 2,762 direct vaping-related jobs. Sales of disposables and prefilled cartridges in Virginia exceeded $12 million in 2016.

  • As of January 7, 2020, VDH has reported 99 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses, including one death. VDH does not offer up-to-date information on age, gender or substances vaped. VDH earns a D for its reporting on vaping-related lung illnesses.

  • In 2017, only 1.9 percent of Virginia high school students reported daily vapor use. Only 6.2 percent who had used e-cigarettes reported “flavors” as a reason for e-cigarette use. More data is needed.  

  • Only 3 percent of FDA retail compliance checks in Virginia resulted in sales of e-cigarettes to minors from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019.

  • Virginia spends very little on tobacco prevention. In 2019, Virginia dedicated only $10.8 million on tobacco control, or 3 percent of what the state received in tobacco settlement payments and taxes.

E-CIGARETTES HELP MILITARY SERVICE MEMBERS QUIT SMOKING

March 5, 2019
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  • Smoking rates among military service members continues to decline as e-cigarette use increases, according to a 2018 study by the Rand Corporation.

  • In Rand’s Health Related Behaviors Survey Substance Use Among U.S. Active-Duty, “13.9 percent of service members were current cigarette smokers, and 7.4 percent smoked cigarettes daily.

  • Among the general population, 16.8 percent of Americans were current smokers, and 12.9 percent were daily smokers.

  • Historically, smoking rates among service members have been higher than the national average. In 2011, 24.5 percent of service members reported cigarette use in the past 30 days,” compared to 20.6 percent of civilians.

  • The Rand analysis also finds a significant portion of military service members use electronic cigarettes, as 35.7 percent reported they have tried e-cigarettes, 12.4 percent reported being current past-month users, and 11.1 percent reported being daily users.

  • Numerous public health groups including Public Health England (PHE), the Royal College of Physicians, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and the American Cancer Society have publicly acknowledged reduced harm form the use of e-cigarettes. PHE England has even found e-cigarettes to be “95% safer than smoking.”

  • E-cigarettes have also become a very popular and successful smoking cessation tool.

    • In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that among smokers who attempted to quit smoking cigarettes within the past year, “more than one-half have ever tried an e-cigarette and 20.3% were current e-cigarette users.

    • A 2016 analysis noted that of the 10 million American adult vapers, approximately 3 million had used e-cigarettes to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes.

    • A 2019 study found electronic cigarettes and vaping devices to be “twice as effective” as nicotine replacement therapy.

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©2020 by Tobacco Harm Reduction 101.