You Be the Judge, Part 4 – Who Benefits?

Vaper’s Vortex

March 27, 2015


“You can’t find what you’re not looking for.”

In the final post of this series, let’s take a “holistic” look at how Washington’s elected officials are proposing to address the e-cigarette question both from a tax and a health standpoint.

Quoting again from the Auburn Reporter article …

Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater, agrees there is significant need to address vapor-product regulation from a health standpoint. However, Reykdal said making the school systems more dependent on vapor products as a tax source is not wise public policy.

  • Who would benefit from this tax?
  • The bill would bankrupt virtually all small vaping products businesses and eliminate online sales. That would leave only two sources:
    • Contraband illegally smuggled into the state and
    • Big Tobacco.
  • The bill’s 95% tax will eliminate the cost incentive for switching from cigarettes to vaping products. Potential e-cigarette users will continue to smoke cigarettes. Current e-cigarette users will go back to smoking cigarettes. Who wins? Big Tobacco.
  • Who will continue marketing inferior e-cigarette products? Big Tobacco.
  • Why? Because 95% of their sales come from combustible cigarettes. Net profits from sales last year – $37 billion. Who wins? Big Tobacco.
  • In the absence of any competition and with school systems “more dependent on vapor products as a tax source”, who will they be dependent on? Big Tobacco.

“I’m not ruling out the tax side,” Reykdal said. “I just want a better more rational conversation with all the parties on what is the best way to meet the health outcome and still have a rational tax policy.”

  • A more rational conversation that actually focuses on meeting a “health outcome” would include ideas like:
    • Tobacco harm reduction
    • Evidence based studies
    • Science instead of ideology
    • Much is unknown about the health effects of long term use of e-cigarettes. What is known is there is a considerable volume of well documented science concluding that electronic cigarettes are dramatically less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes. The following is just a small sample. You be the judge.

Paul Davis, program manager for tobacco prevention and control at the Washington Department of Health: “If everybody quit smoking and went to e-cigarettes, and we didn’t have new kids starting, it’s pretty hard to argue that wouldn’t be a public-health benefit,” Davis said. “But we know we got a lot of kids starting and we’re not sure if people are completely quitting smoking and trading to these new vapor products.”

  • So if 10%, 20% or 50% of current smokers quit smoking that would not be a public health benefit? Anything less than “everybody” would be a failure?
  • “We know we have a lot of kids starting” implies starting to use e-cigarettes on a regular basis. All federally funded studies define “use” as one or two puffs within the last 30 days. All we know is that we have a lot of kids “experimenting” – big difference.
  • The results of the 2014 Monitoring the Future study was released in December of last year.
    • The study is conducted by the University of Michigan but federally funded by the National Institutes of Health.
    • The study surveyed 45,000 students in approximately 400 schools nationwide.
    • The survey found, for the first time ever, e-cigarette use by 8th, 10th and 12th grade students exceeded their use of tobacco cigarettes.
    • The study also found that overall teen use of tobacco cigarettes was the lowest ever recorded in the 40 year history of the MTF survey.
    • In addition, MTF determined that cigarette use by 12th grade students went from 16.3% in 2013 to 13.6% in 2014 – the largest single year decline in MTF history.
    • Could there be a connection? As youth e-cigarette use goes up, smoking goes down. Not just declining, but dropping at rates never seen before. A public health benefit with no historical equal.

“Rational tax policy”? “Best way to meet the health outcome”?

You be the judge.


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Dave Coggin has a Master’s Degree in business and spent 35 years in corporate America. He is a co-founder and partner in DIYELS. He has spent the last five years actively researching and following the evolution of the e-cigarette industry. He is a strong proponent of e-cigarettes as the most promising option currently known for tobacco harm reduction. He may be contacted directly at dave@diyels.com .

The opinions presented here are exclusively those of the author. Vaper’s Vortex is offered as a service to our customers and followers. Anyone considering e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes should seek qualified advice from a medical professional.

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