Electronic cigarettes, or e cigarettes battery operated nicotine delivery devices that mimic the look and feel of smoking by vaporizing a liquid solution such as propylene glycol appeared in European and American markets less than a decade ago. Sales have reached $650 million a year in Europe and are projected to reach $1.7 billion in the United States in 2013. Though these figures are a small fraction of sales figures for traditional cigarettes, e cigarettes represent a substantial market achievement indeed, some people predict that they may eventually eclipse tobacco cigarettes.

But e cigarettes are the subject of a public health dispute that has become more furious as their popularity has increased. Whereas some experts welcome the e cigarette as a pathway to the reduction or cessation of tobacco use, opponents characterize it as a dangerous product that could undermine efforts to denormalize smoking. Already, Boston has applied workplace smoking bans to e cigarettes. New York City and Los Angeles are poised to go a step further, prohibiting their use in public (including in parks and on beaches), though a similar proposal recently stalled in Chicago. This debate occurs as tobacco control advocates have begun examining policy options for a tobacco endgame the implementation of radical strategies for eliminating tobacco use globally.

Marketing campaigns for e cigarettes threaten to reverse the successful, decades long public health campaign to denormalize smoking. The chief advertising officer of one e cigarette company has spoken explicitly about the renormalization of smoking in the form of vaping the popular name for e cigarette use. Even Big Tobacco dared not utter such words as the image of smoking was transformed over the decades. As information about the hazards of sidestream smoke was publicized in the 1980s and 1990s, the imperative to protect innocent bystanders moved to the center of tobacco control efforts, and public smoking bans pushed smokers into the shadows. The once widespread habit didn’t simply become denormalized or marginalized it became highly stigmatized. The pervasive became perverse.

E cigarette advertisements, even as they denigrate traditional tobacco cigarettes, are challenging a barrier to television promotion erected more than 40 years ago. Smelling like an ashtray is not the ideal aphrodisiac, scolds talk show host Jenny McCarthy, as she enjoys her Blu eCig. Actor Stephen Dorff, another Blu spokesperson and former smoker, similarly acknowledges that smoking is seen as dirty but adds, I’m tired of feeling guilty every time I want to light up. He implies that public health messages are paternalistic We’re all adults here. It’s time to take our freedom back. Come on guys, rise from the ashes. On Super Bowl Sunday 2013, an NJOY e cigarette ad seen by 10 million viewers declared, Finally, smokers have a real alternative. Cigarettes, you’ve met your match.

The tobacco control community has responded to these messages with alarm. In 2009, the World Health Organization warned that e cigarettes threatened bans on public smoking, which have been key to tobacco control. Similar concerns were raised by anti tobacco activist Stanton Glantz and his colleagues Given the substantial research demonstrating the effect of viewing smoking in the movies on adolescent smoking initiation, the addictive nature of nicotine and the lack of regulatory assurance of their quality or safety, it is important to keep ENDS electronic nicotine delivery systems , and other similar products, from being sensationalized through the use of celebrity promotion or product placement in movies or other entertainment media. 1

These fears are compounded by data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that twice as many young people experimented with e cigarettes in 2012 as in 2011, although use of tobacco cigarettes declined in the same period (see graphUse of Cigarettes and Electronic Cigarettes by U.S. Students in 2011 and 2012.). If e cigarettes prove to be a gateway or bridge product, leading to an increase in underage smoking, that would represent a serious setback in the fight against tobacco related illness. Invoking images of terrorism, two tobacco control advocates claim that smoking bans and clean air advocacy are being hijacked. 2 Australian tobacco control advocates Simon Chapman and Melanie Wakefield warn that something sinister is at work. The goal of e cigarette makers is not cessation of tobacco use but dual use e cigarettes simply capitalize on harm reduction sentiment to sustain what has become a private habit by reopening public spaces. They argue, This could be a harm increasing outcome when assessed against the status quo of ever declining smoking prevalence. 3

In September 2013, 40 U.S. attorneys general called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to act swiftly to regulate e cigarettes as tobacco products. Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health, has urged leaders of U.S. schools of public health to join an effort to make U.S. colleges and universities smoke free, which would include banning e cigarettes.

The most vocal supporters of e cigarettes, other than those with commercial interests in them, have been public health professionals who’ve embraced the strategy of harm reduction an approach to risky behavior that prioritizes minimizing damage rather than eliminating the behavior. Harm reduction was the guiding principle behind needle exchange, the provision of sterile syringes to injection drug users to reduce bloodborne transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis, and other illnesses. Some harm reduction advocates frame an abstinence only stance as moralistic, arguing that it is nonsensical to dismiss an alternative by demanding absolute safety. Furthermore, some such advocates believe that not only e cigarettes but also smokeless tobacco products hold the potential to lead to one of the greatest public health breakthroughs in human history by fundamentally changing the forecast of a billion cigarette caused deaths this century. 4

Although the evidence is limited and contested, some studies suggest that the majority of e cigarette users treat them as cessation aides and report that they’ve been key to quitting smoking. For example, in one study, e cigarettes compare favorably to nicotine replacement therapies in terms of the likelihood of having returned to smoking 6 months after a cessation attempt.5

Given the near unanimity of the public health community in pressing for harm reduction for injection drug users in the face of relentless political opposition, some harm reduction advocates find it stunning that their allies in that struggle have embraced an abstinence only position on smoking. These advocates claim that a strategy of reducing, though not eliminating, risk is a moral imperative, given the certainty of harm associated with continued tobacco smoking.

The debate’s stakes are heightened by the current discussion of the tobacco endgame, which aims to eliminate smoking or reduce it to very low levels. Most endgame strategists have advanced prohibitionist policies, from complete bans on traditional cigarettes, to regulatory strategies that would reduce and eventually eliminate nicotine, to efforts to manipulate pH levels in tobacco to make inhaling unpleasant.

This debate compels us to address the fundamental issue posed by Kenneth Warner in a recent issue of Tobacco Control devoted to endgame strategies What would constitute a final victory in tobacco control? Warner’s question raises several others Must victory entail complete abstinence from e cigarettes as well as tobacco? To what levels must we reduce the prevalence of smoking? What lessons should be drawn from the histories of alcohol and narcotic drug prohibition?

From the glowing tip to the smokelike vapor, e cigarettes seek to mimic the personal experience and public performance of smoking. But ironically, the attraction of the device is predicated on the continued stigmatization of
tobacco cigarettes. Although abstinence only and strict denormalization strategies may be incompatible with e cigarette use, the goal of eliminating smoking related risks is not. We may not be able to rid the public sphere of vaping, but given the magnitude of tobacco related deaths some 6 million globally every year and 400,000 in the United States, disproportionately among people at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum an unwillingness to consider e cigarette use until all risks or uncertainties are eliminated strays dangerously close to dogmatism. We believe that states should ban the sale of e cigarettes to minors and the FDA should move swiftly to regulate them so that their potential harms are better understood and so that they can contribute to the goal of harm reduction.

Federal budget unveils major tax hike for smokers that will see jump in cost of cigarettes, tobacco and cigars

Switching from traditional cigarettes to v2 electronic cigarettes
Budget at a glance

OTTAWA The federal government is substantially hiking taxes on cigarettes, chewing tobacco and cigars a move that is sure to leave Canadian smokers fuming and could lead to an increase in contraband sales.

In a surprise announcement in Tuesday s budget, the Conservative government unveiled a major tax hike for smokers that will force them to dig deeper to light up.

Even so called duty free tobacco won t be spared from the tax hike and will now face the same federal excise taxes as smokes and manufactured tobacco for sale in the domestic market.


  • Federal budget Jim Flaherty promises surplus in 2015 but won t spend recklessly
  • John Ivison Flaherty has done more than anyone to make life more affordable for Canada s most vulnerable citzens

The government expects to make approximately $3.3 billion in additional revenue from the tobacco tax hikesbetween now and the 2018 19 fiscal year (including $685 million in the 2014 15 fiscal year starting April 1).

The move is sure to spark some ill will towards a government that has promised it would not increase taxes on Canadians, as Ottawa looks to balance the books in 2015, partly on the backs of smokers.

The excise duty on a pack of cigarettes will increase by about $4 per carton of 200 cigarettes, to $21.03 from the current $17, an increase of about 24 per cent. The government says the federal duty on cigarettes has effectively not increased since 2002 and that the hike accounts for inflation.

A corresponding tax hike will also be applied to tobacco sticks, with the duty also increasing to $21.03 per 200 tobacco sticks from the current $17.

The federal excise duty on manufactured tobacco (such as chewing tobacco or fine cut tobacco for roll your own cigarettes) will increase to $26.29 per 200 grams from the current $21.25. Also, the excise duty on cigars will increase to $22.89 per1,000 cigars, from the current $18.50, and the additional cigar duty will also increase.

Taxing tobacco products at a sustainable level is an important element of the government s health strategy to discourage smoking among Canadian

The tax hikes take effect Feb. 12.

Taxing tobacco products at a sustainable level is an important element of the government s health strategy to discourage smoking among Canadians, the budget says.

The government is also increasing the duty free excise tax slapped on all Canadian made cigarettes, tobacco sticks and manufactured tobacco for sale in domestic and foreign duty free shops, as well as on imports of these products for sale in Canadian duty free shops.

Currently, a carton of 200 cigarettes receives a $2 excise duty preference compared to a carton in thedomestic market ($15 per carton compared to $17). The budget changes will see the duty free rate for cigarettes increase to $21.03 per carton of 200 cigarettes, in line with the changes for smokes available in the domestic market.

The duty free rate on tobacco sticks and manufactured tobacco will also increase to the same rate as those in the domestic market (to $21.03 per 200 tobacco sticks and $26.29 per 200 grams of manufactured tobacco).

And the tobacco tax hike will continue into the future. The government also announced the higher excise taxes will be indexed to inflation and automatically adjusted every five years. The first inflationary adjustment (beyond the higher rates announced Tuesday) will be effective Dec. 1, 2019.

The excise duty is slapped on tobacco products manufactured in Canada at the time manufacturers package them and on imported tobacco at the time of importation.

In an effort to ensure that the higher tobacco rates are applied consistently to all cigarettes, the government will impose roughly a two cent per cigarette tax on inventories held by manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers.

The tobacco tax hike is certain to increase contraband tobacco in Canada, a point the government seems to acknowledge. The Conservatives also promised in the budget approximately $92 million over five years to help the RCMP combat contraband tobacco.

The money will partly go toward creating a Geospatial Intelligence and Automated Dispatch Centre and the deployment of various sensor devices to detect movement on the border in high risk areas from the Maine Quebec border to Oakville, Ont.

Gregory Thomas, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said the government could have a difficult time trying to collect the more than $3 billion it s expecting in additional revenues over the next five years.

The tobacco tax hike will dramatically increase the amount of contraband tobacco in Canada, he said, yet the government is only investing a relatively small amount in combatting the illegal tobacco market.

Let s see them try and collect it the expected additional revenue . They re demanding a whole lot of conscience on the part of smokers, Thomas said.

We all know that tobacco smuggling activity on our borders is a growing problem.

Budget at a glance

Jim Flaherty lowered his outlook for this year s deficit to $16.6 billion from the $17.9 billion estimate in his November fiscal update. For 2014 15, the shortfall forecast has been lowered to $2.9 billion from $5.5 billion. At the same time, the minister has raised his surplus target for 2015 16 to $6.4 billion from $3.7 billion. In the coming years, that surplus is projected to grow steadily before reaching $10.3 billion in2018 19, the government s current forecast horizon. It s been a long road back from the Great Recession to a balanced budget, he said.

What you need to know about the budget

  • The cost of cigarettes is going up. A carton of 200 cigarettes will now carry about $21 in taxes, up from $17. The 24 per cent increase will apply to other tobacco products effective immediately. Oh, and duty free cigarette rates are going up as well.
  • The government plans to cap domestic wireless roaming rates, arguing it will lower prices and encourage competition. That won t help you, though, if you go roaming in Mexico.
  • The government says it intends to legislate an end to the price gap between goods sold in the United States, for instance, and the same goods sold for more in Canada. How will the Conservatives do this? Details will be announced in the coming months, the budget says.
  • The government has built in a $3 billion cushion into its budget. If all the numbers line up as the government hopes, it could mean that the budget is balanced, even though the government said the budget wouldn t be balanced until next year.
  • Overall, the federal budget this year is a very cautious document that doesn t include many frills, but does have spending slotted on an as needed basis not as much cash up front. That leaves the government free for a more robust document next year to set up the fall 2015 election.
  • A $543 million fix for Montreal’s crumbling bridge infrastructure, including $165 million over two years for a new bridge to replace the aging Champlain Bridge.
  • Suspended senators and MPs could soon find themselves cut off not only from their salaries, but also from getting closer to their pensions. The federal government signalled its intent to close a loophole that allows suspended parliamentarians to continue to accrue years of service towards their pensions. That currently applies to three senators suspended without pay Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin.

What you may want to know from the budget

  • The Governor General is paying more taxes The only person in the country exempted from customs tariffs will lose that privilege. Last year, the government decided it was time the Governor General also paid income taxes, and a pay raise to offset the loss in income.
  • Olympic athletes will be able to count the money they earn from amateur competitio
    ns when they look to calculate how much they can contribute to their RRSP. Bottom line Olympians will be able to set aside more for retirement unless all those gold medals may be worth a bit in the future.
  • Once approved, the government will have to provide an annual update on how various tax saving measures are actually performing so you know if you re really getting more money in your pocket.
  • Beer drinkers rejoice! The government has proposed new regulations to remove red tape hurdles on labeling for new beers. That will help some brews get to market faster but not bring down the price of your favourite ale or lager. It also is looking to make it legal to bring beer and liquor across provincial borders, in the same way wine can be.
  • Search and rescue volunteers are being offered a tax credit for their work. The credit will be available to anyone with at least 200 hours of service.