ICLE Chief Economist Eric Fruits on E-Cigarette Taxation in the Oregonian
ICLE chief economist Eric Fruits published an OpEd in the Oregonian noting the problematic ambiguity present in Oregon’s potential taxing of e-cigarettes and other smokeless tobacco products:
To fill an anticipated $876 million budget hole in the 2019-21 biennium, the Oregon Health Authority is pursuing a $300 million increase in taxes on tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and other vapor products. The agency has not provided any indication what an e-cigarette tax would look like, which invites the question whether e-cigarettes and other vapor products should be taxed at all and, if so, at what rate?
One in six Oregon adults is a smoker. Nearly 70 percent of smokers report they want to quit completely. Yet, conventional attempts to quit — such as “cold turkey”– are notoriously unsuccessful. Many experts, including those at the American Cancer Society, believe that the best option for smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit smoking is to switch to a less harmful alternative with similar attributes, such as e-cigarettes.
Most of the harm from smoking is caused by the inhalation of toxins released through the burning of tobacco. Non-combustible nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are considered to be significantly less harmful than smoking cigarettes. For example, the U.K. government agency Public Health Englandconcluded that e-cigarettes are around 95 percent less harmful than smoked cigarettes.