Colorado lawmakers try to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vapor merchandise below the auspice of “protecting the children.”
It’s laudable to scale back youth use of age-restricted merchandise, however a ban on all flavored tobacco and vapor merchandise disregards information indicating youth aren’t overwhelmingly utilizing flamable tobacco merchandise.
This might result in extra hurt than good and finally fails to handle why youth use vapor merchandise.
After an hours-long listening to within the Colorado House Health & Insurance Committee, House Bill 1064, which might ban flavors, superior with vital amendments. What started as a ban on all flavored tobacco and vapor merchandise now contains exemptions for premium cigars and pipe tobacco, in addition to a provision allowing flavored merchandise in age-restricted shops.
READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.
Sponsors of the laws have been dissatisfied with the amendments. The unique sponsor claimed the brand new invoice doesn’t “solve the problem [and they] don’t think that it’s going to work.”
What the sponsor doesn’t know is that flavored tobacco bans don’t work.
While youth use of e-cigarettes is a trigger for some type of motion, together with all tobacco merchandise in a ban ignores the info that youth use of conventional tobacco merchandise exterior of vapes is at an all-time low.
In 2019, in line with the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS), 5.7 % of Colorado excessive schoolers reported smoking a flamable cigarette on a number of days within the 30 days previous to the survey. This is a 46.7 % lower from 2013 when 10.7 % of highschool college students reported previous 30-day use.
Similarly, youth use of different tobacco merchandise is at report lows. In 2013, 9.7 % reported utilizing cigar merchandise previously 30 days. By 2019, this had decreased by 58.8 % to 4 % of excessive schoolers. Even higher, in 2019, solely 2.6 % of Colorado excessive schoolers reported previous month use of smokeless tobacco merchandise.
While youth aren’t utilizing these merchandise, adults in Colorado get pleasure from them and the state reaps quite a few advantages resembling excise taxes from such merchandise being on a authorized, regulated market and all that comes with such laws.
In 2020, Colorado collected $140 million in state cigarette excise taxes and $82.4 million in tobacco settlement funds based mostly upon the quantity of tobacco bought within the state. These are attributed to authorized merchandise, but the state s already burdened by untaxed, unlawful tobacco merchandise. In 2018, in line with the Tax Foundation, smuggled cigarettes accounted for 8.9% of all cigarettes consumed in Colorado. Banning sure merchandise will solely enhance smuggling, as already evidenced in Massachusetts, which has banned the sale of all flavored tobacco and vape merchandise.
Massachusetts banned retail gross sales of flavored tobacco merchandise in June 2020. This has been sharply felt in each excise-tax income and enforcement prices.
Between fiscal years 2020 and 2021, state cigarette excise taxes in Massachusetts decreased by 23.7%. This is instantly attributed to the flavour ban. Between FY2016 and FY2020 cigarette tax income fell on common by 5.5% annually.
Across the boder in New Hampshire, cigarette tax collections elevated by 18.1% throughout the identical interval, even because the variety of people who smoke was lowering.
Further, Massachusetts has been compelled to allocate further state funding to its Illegal Tobacco Task Force to implement the ban. In reality, between FY 2020 and 2021 budgets, state funding elevated by 73% from $589,911 allotted to the duty power in 2020 to greater than $1 million in 2021 and 2022. This is although income from cigarette gross sales has decreased.
The proposed ban that Colorado lawmakers are contemplating is an try to handle youth vaping. Iin 2019, 25.9% of Colorado highschool college students reported utilizing vapor tobacco inside the previous month.
But what has been ignored by lawmakers is the explanation why youth are utilizing e-cigarettes, and it’s not due to flavors.
According to the newest Halthy Kids Colorado Survey, 45.5% of highschool college students that have been present e-cigarette customers reported utilizing e-cigarettes as a result of a buddy or member of the family used them. Only 18.4% reported use due to flavors.
If Colorado actually needs to handle youth use of vapor merchandise, they should deal with laws that focuses on such use – not different tobacco merchandise. A ban on all merchandise will solely reduce the quantity of income collected in excise taxes and trigger elevated prices as a result of enforcement whereas not “solving” the difficulty of youth vapor product use.
Lindsey Stroud, of Arlington Heights, Ill., is director of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s Consumer Center.
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