Tax increase on e-cigarettes leads to more young smokers

When taxes on e-cigarettes and e-liquid are high, smoking increases. This is especially true among young adults (18-25 years old). This is according to a new study from Yale University.
"It is clear that young adults will choose to vejpa rather than smoke if the price of e-cigarettes is lower than cigarettes," says researcher Abigail Friedman.

Taxes are often used to reduce the use of e-cigarettes among young people. In several US states, but also in many EU countries, taxation of nicotine and e-liquid has become part of the control apparatus. But how do these taxes affect use? And what are the consequences in relation to competing nicotine products, such as cigarettes? Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health and Georgia State University wanted to find out.
"We were particularly interested in the effects of taxes among young adults aged 18 to 25. This is an important group, as it is usually at these ages that occasional use of nicotine turns into regular use," says Mr Perez. Abiagail Friedman, assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health, told Yale News.

Fewer vejpade after tax increase

To find out the effect of taxes, the researchers compared buying habits in states that had imposed taxes on e-liquid and those that had not. They found that the use of e-cigarettes decreased in relation to the level of taxation. If the price went up by the equivalent of SEK 10 per millilitre of e-liquid, use decreased by 2.5 percentage points among young adults.

More young people smoking

At the same time, the use of cigarettes increased by 3.7 percentage points in the same group. Compared to previous studies spanning all age groups, young adult vejpers were found to be three times more sensitive to tax increases than older vejpers.

"Young adults are very sensitive to price. However, when we look at statistics on nicotine habits, we rarely distinguish the 18-25 age group. This is problematic as this group has a much higher use of cigarettes than those who are older. The same is true for e-cigarettes," says Mr Perez. Abigail Friedman

E-cigs and smoking are linked

The researchers also noted that the opposite was true when taxes on cigarettes were increased, without taxes on e-cigarettes. In these states, smoking decreased by 2.5 percentage points, while 1TP8 smoking among young adults increased by the same amount.

Market substitution

According to Abigail Friedmanwho conducted the study together with economist Michael Peskoit is important to conduct a thorough public health analysis when taxes on e-cigarettes and nicotine are on the agenda.

"Our studies clearly show that this is about market substitution. People who buy nicotine products choose and switch between cigarettes or e-cigarettes. This is particularly true for young adults," said Abigail Friedman.

Similar trend for flavour bans

Previous studies have shown a similar connection between restrictions on e-cigarettes and increased use of traditional cigarettes among young people. At issue was the ban on flavours - which led to more young people smoking in one San Francisco district compared to neighbouring districts where flavours remained allowed.

"Reasonable that the least dangerous is cheaper"

A further study published in 2021 highlighted the impact of taxes on e-liquid, but across all age groups. Again, the results reflected a market where cigarette use increased significantly when e-cigarettes became more expensive.

"Legislators should be very aware of how taxation affects the habits of people who use nicotine. Reasonably, the least dangerous option should also be the least costly one. In the case of e-cigarettes and cigarettes, it is clear that price plays a major role in the choice of nicotine users. It is also clear that young adults are more sensitive to price differences than older users." says Abigail Friedman.

In the journal "Addiction"

The study was published in the journal "Addiction" and was funded by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health and the University of Kentucky's Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise.

Sources for this article:
Tax increases on e-cigs likely to boost cigarette smoking among young adults

Young Adult Responses to Taxes on Cigarettes and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

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