NEW YORK's FLAVOR BAN (AGAIN)
New York is at it again with two new bills: The NY State Assembly A30007B and the Senate Bill S4007B. Both would add to the already tremendous flavor ban in New York and the state is introducing higher taxes tobacco products as well.
What does that mean for New Yorkers?
Building on New York’s success in expanding its illicit tobacco market and criminalizing small business owners who were helping their neighbors stop smoking, Governor Kathy Hochul is proposing to ban flavors in the tobacco and nicotine products that are still available in New York. Hochul is also proposing a tax hike for both cigarettes and the few vapor and other smoke-free products that are left.
New York has been under a flavor ban for a while now. Purveyors could once search for their favorite fruity flavors in shops, but as of 2020, you can't buy anything reminiscent of bubble gum or pineapple.
With A30007B and S4007B, these new bills double the taxes on less harmful tobacco and nicotine products and prohibit legal sales of these products in flavors other than tobacco. New York already has a robust and growing underground market for tobacco products due to the highest cigarette tax in the country (tied with Connecticut and second to Washington, D.C.) and an existing ban on flavored vapor products.
This means higher cost of production, shrinking of the industry, and even lower accessibility for those that are desperately trying to quit smoking.
Less demand means higher production costs. These additional taxes on vaping will continue make it more difficult for people who smoke to switch to demonstrably safer alternatives to cigarettes. The argument is the same: If customers cannot afford an accessible alternative, their addiction to tobacco and other products will win out. The struggle may discourage a couple kids from smoking, but the net effect is more likely to create a more dangerous supply chain with higher costs of production. Creating supply chain of illegal product opens a huge door for underground markets, with homemade THC oil showing up in vapes on the street, not to mention the New York vaping scandal of 2019. You know what we're talking about.
If costs rise and taxes go up, people will be looking for an alternative to the products they can no longer afford. Sin taxes like this are regressive. People who smoke and those who switch to vaping and other smoke-free alternatives are disproportionately poor and low income people. Sin taxes place unnecessary burdens on an already financially challenged group. To make matters worse, people in the low-income bracket are less likely to be insured and lack access to health care providers.
The affordable resources available to these people have low success rates. Extra taxes on safer nicotine products sends a confusing and inaccurate message to would-be adopters that smoke-free products present similar risks. The result of this message is that more people, those who otherwise would have switched to a smoke-free product, will be encouraged to continue smoking.
A smaller and more dangerous industry can lead to nothing but trouble for people that are already struggling to breathe under the new regulations.
New York already leads the nation in cigarette smuggling. More than half of the cigarettes consumed in the state, an estimated 53.5 percent, are purchased from illegal outlets or smuggled across state lines. The foregone revenue from the more than 250 million smuggled packs exceeds $1 billion annually. With Governor Hochul’s proposed changes, that figure could grow substantially to include illegal vapes and juice.
For all the problems the tax hike and flavor bans will create, they’ll procure almost no benefit. In an environment where more than half of the cigarettes consumed are purchased across borders or in illicit markets, an effect of this magnitude is extremely unlikely.
So what can we do?
GET INVOLVED TODAY!
Just because we can't catch a break doesn't mean we can't take action. Click the link below to make contact with your officials in Idaho via email and Twitter, and urge them to reject this tax.
Share your story about switching to vaping, how your health has improved by switching to vaping, or include your own vaping victories in a personal message. Stay involved, stay alert, and smoke BLVK. We're with you, New York.