Cigarette sales in California take a significant hit following new tax implementation.
Californians voted in favour of Proposition 56 back in November 2016. The levy on tobacco products resulted in a $2 tax increase per cigarette pack and many have said that the increase was a successful smoking deterrent, as cigarette sales have taken a dramatic dip since it became effective.
The State Legislative Analyst Office conducted a study that clearly indicates people are buying less cigarettes, and tax revenues have undergone a 60% decrease between May 2016 and May 2017. Zak Refai, owner of High Society Smoke Shop, agrees that “Sales declined…dramatically declined”, adding that he’s witnessed a 30 to 40 percent drop in sales and has observed many people making the switch to cheaper alternatives, like electronic cigarettes.
The Analyst’s Office have stated, however, that it is too soon to determine whether there is true significance in the decrease in sales. An increase in tax revenues for March and April are also reflected in the study, so results may indicate that people are possibly stockpiling cigarettes before tax implementation.
The study says that “revenues for the existing cigarette tax funds were 64 percent lower in May 2017 than in May 2016. This sharp decline could reflect a combination of various responses to the tax increase, including temporary responses (such as stockpiling) and permanent responses (such as lower smoking rates).”
Despite public health experts pointing out that taxing and regulating safer smoking alternatives such as vaping would be counterproductive to public health, lawmakers in California seem to keep making the mistake over and over again. There are many studies that indicate e-cigarettes are significantly safer than smoking and that they are a preferred and more effective smoking cessation method, since they mimic smoking. It is clear that vaping plays a key role in harm reduction and could be part of the solution in reversing the health epidemic caused by smoking and they should be regulated accordingly.