Residents of California, Colorado, North Dakota and Missouri will decide whether to raise the tax on tobacco products. Electronic cigarettes are included in these tax proposals and would raise the price of tobacco products by $2.00 in California, under Proposition 56.
California currently has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country, so a tax to raise prices would seem to make sense. However, California's smoking rate is the second lowest in the U.S. at just 12%. And as with most political dealings with e-cigarettes, proponents of this tax argue that vaping is unsafe and a tax would prevent youth access.
Tobacco giants R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris are against such a tax and state that only 13% of the estimated $1.4 billion in taxes that Prop 56 will generate, will actually go to California's tobacco cessation programs. And while they obviously have a vested interest in this tax, they do bring up a valid point. If this tax is supposed to help fund programs to get people off nicotine, why is a majority of the money not going into such programs?
A counter point to this is Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Glantz claims that $100 million dollars is all that is needed to help those addicted to cigarettes quit. Other advocates for Prop 56 point to New York, which has often voted to raise the cost of tobacco, which end up forcing people to quit simply because a pack of cigarettes is too high for many to afford.
So where do you stand? Are you behind big tobacco's stance, or do you feel a tax is needed to keep the cost of tobacco products high to prevent youth access and force adults to quit due to high prices? Let us know in the comments below.