Recently, there has been a rise in state level legislation for Flavor Bans on nicotine products and a patchwork of legal hurdles to navigate. We had a moment to catch up with Markus Linblad, head of External Affairs for Haypp Group, regarding these increasing popular piece of legislation and the unintended consequences.
Flavor Bans and Excise Taxes on Tobacco Harm Reduction Products Will Lead to More Smokers
Over the past few decades, America has seen a positive public health trend - a steady decrease in cigarette sales. Given that cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, this has been welcome news. Unfortunately, 2020 changed things, and according to reports, cigarette sales were flat from 2019 to 2020.
While the pandemic certainly influenced consumers' smoking habits, some smokers said that increased taxes on e-cigarette products, flavor bans, and confusion about the health ramifications caused some to switch back to traditional combustible cigarettes.
The Food and Drug Administration, as well as state and local governments, should encourage the use of tobacco harm reduction products that help smokers transition away from more harmful combustible cigarettes.
One way to do this is to ensure that any flavor ban that is passed on the state or federal level excludes harm reduction products like tobacco-free nicotine pouches, as well as nicotine gum and lozenges. If these products get swept up in an overreaching flavor ban, it would remove from the market a key tool smokers use to stave off nicotine cravings without turning back to cigarettes. See a recent Op-Ed by Matt Mackowiak in the Washington Times for further reading here.
Additionally, when states look to raise taxes on tobacco products to encourage smokers to quit, they should not add taxes on tobacco harm reduction products as well. Given that increased taxation has the goal of reducing the consumption of a product, increasing the cost of harm reduction products will discourage their use - the exact opposite of what elected officials should be doing. Elected officials and public policy experts should do everything possible to discourage Americans from turning back to cigarettes, but states that pass flavor ban bills or increased taxes on tobacco harm reduction products would do just that. That is why it is critical that those who use these products speak out and make sure their voices are heard before bad bills become law.
If your state is considering a bill that would ban flavored tobacco harm reduction products, or if these products are at risk of increased taxation, make sure you let your legislators know that this is the wrong approach and could lead to an increase in cigarette sales, a trend we have not seen in decades but looks like it could be on the horizon if people do not speak up and if legislators do not listen.
You can find out how to contact your legislators to make sure they hear these important facts here.