The end of the 2021 session at the Hawai‘i State Legislature marked yet another missed opportunity to enact meaningful e-cigarette regulations, despite data showing that one in three Hawai‘i high schoolers currently use vape products. New research published by Dr. Frank Chaloupka of the University of Illinois at Chicago, however, offers reason to remain optimistic by providing key evidence to support the benefits of regulation. Dr. Chaloupka’s two recently published reports examine how banning flavored tobacco products and taxing e-cigarettes could impact our state. The findings validate what tobacco prevention and control advocates have been saying for years: these policy changes will save lives.   

KEY FINDINGS
Ending the Sale of Flavored Tobacco in HI

  • Percent of menthol smokers who would quit:  5.6%
  • 700 premature smoking-caused deaths avoided
  • At least $48 million in long-term health care cost savings for the state
E-Cigarette Tax Revenue

  • 15% of wholesale price:  $8.1 million
  • 40% of wholesale price: $13.6 million
  • 70% of wholesale price:  $7.3 million

The first policy studied by Dr. Chaloupka is the potential impact of ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, such as fruit-flavored e-cigarettes or menthol-flavored combustible cigarettes. The report estimates that banning flavors alone would deter youth initiation into tobacco use, cause 3,000 smokers to quit, and prevent 700 premature smoking deaths. Dr. Chaloupka further finds that the policy change would likely bring only modest reductions in Hawaii’s tobacco tax revenues while producing significant public health benefits and long-term cost savings for the state. While tobacco tax revenue could possibly decline by 13.1% on combustible cigarettes and 14.9% decline for other tobacco products, banning flavors would bring at least $48 million in long-term health care cost savings.

Dr. Chaloupka also studied the revenue potential of e-cigarette taxation in Hawai‘i. Mirroring how our state taxes other tobacco products, he modeled taxation of e-cigarettes at three different possible rates: 15% of the wholesale price, 40% of the wholesale price, and 70% of the wholesale price. Based on these rates, his report projects $8.1 million, $13.6 million, and $7.3 million, respectively, in new revenue for the state. The high price responsiveness of e-cigarette demand results in revenue projections that increase at first, then declines as the tax rate gets higher. Dr. Chaloupka also notes the other recent studies that have found that, as is the case with combustible cigarette use, e-cigarette use, particularly among young people, reduces significantly when the cost of these products increases.

Dr. Chaloupka’s reports offer valuable, concrete data on the efficacy of these policy changes. You can learn more about our Youth Council’s 2022 campaign to enact comprehensive regulations on e-cigarettes at flavorshookkidshi.org. You can also show your support for our youth by endorsing the campaign: