Kentucky currently has the highest rates of cigarette smoking, cancer deaths, and tobacco-related deaths in the nation. In light of this, it may come as no surprise to some to find that health officials in the state are considering raising taxes on cigarettes yet again.
The move to raise taxes on cigarette sales in the state comes at a time when cigarette sales are at an all time low after witnessing a significant decline. But while cigarette sales have declined in some areas, vaping has been quick to take its place with the introduction of smoke-free alternatives such as heat-not-burn devices, electronic cigarettes, and other varieties of vaporizers.
While Kentucky considers raising taxes on cigarettes by more than $1 per pack, a move which health advocates claim to be a proven method of reducing smoking, some see electronic cigarettes as a way out– a means by which to quit smoking entirely. For many, the potential health consequences of smoking are clear and the possibility of quitting via an electronic cigarette or similar device undoubtedly has its appeal, especially in light of the growing body of scientific evidence in support of the notion that vaping is less harmful than smoking.
The FDA recently released a preliminary review of the iQOS device by Philip Morris, a heat-not-burn (HNB) device designed to produce an aerosol or vapor instead of smoke. In their review, they noted that their preliminary findings indicated vaping to likely be far less harmful than smoking.
With that in mind, an increase in cigarette taxes in the state of Kentucky may very well push more smokers to quit in light of the cost increase, which could in turn lead to more vapers as smokers transition over to vaping in an attempt to quit smoking. Subsequently, the tax hike could in turn prove to be beneficial to big tobacco companies and others that are actively engaged in the vaping industry and stand to profit from an increase in vape users.
What do you think about the possibility of a cigarette tax hike in Kentucky? Are health advocates on the right track or is there a better approach to reducing smoking rates among the general population?