Letter: Washington HB 1873
Dear Representative Tarleton:
I am writing to oppose HB 1873, which would expand the definition of tobacco to include vaping products.
I am the Sacramento-based Western region director of the R Street Institute, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization based out of Washington, D.C. We strive to promote free markets and effective government policies in many areas, including harm reduction. Harm reduction approaches can positively affect the health and welfare of people who use addictive substances, which is why I write to you out of concern over this legislation. We encourage the state to consider tax rates that reflect the reduced risk of e-cigarettes, and other potential reduced-risk products such as Snus products, compared to combustible cigarettes.
The best available science indicates e-cigarettes are not likely to exceed 5 percent of the harm associated with combustible cigarettes – a conclusion supported by both Public Health England and recently the National Academy of Sciences. Also, like traditional nicotine replacement therapies, they do not produce the environmental tobacco smoke that harms bystanders. Policy that encourages smokers to switch to e-cigarettes if they cannot quit or do not wish to will significantly reduce the enormous burden of disease that combustible cigarettes impose on society. It is estimated that e-cigarettes have potential to save up to 6 million lives by 2100 if only 10 percent of current smokers switch to e-cigarettes over the next 10 years. Policies that treat e-cigarettes as if they were the same as combustible cigarettes will encourage current smokers to continue doing enormous harm to their health by continuing their use of combustible products.
From a public-health perspective it is important to incentivize people to use less harmful products such as e-cigarettes through the use of taxation and pricing incentives that enable access to safer alternatives to combustible cigarettes. It is imperative that access to e-cigarettes and vapor products remain at level that encourages, rather than discourages, people to choose these less harmful products. Doing so will reduce the incidence and cost of tobacco-related disease.
Thank you for your time and consideration.