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No Room For Tobacco: How State Policies Are Shifting To Address The Smoking And Vaping Crisis

In February 2023, a new study from the CDC revealed that most American adults support policies prohibiting the sales of menthol cigarettes and all tobacco products. Support was only lower among current tobacco product users.

Author:Karan Emery
Reviewer:Daniel James
Apr 12, 2024
In February 2023, a new study from the CDC revealed that most American adultssupport policies prohibiting the sales of menthol cigarettes and all tobacco products. Support was only lower among current tobacco product users. Hence, it's not surprising that more state governments are taking proactive measures to reduce smoking rates, especially as the detrimental health effects of tobacco use become increasingly apparent. In this article, we look at how current state policies address the smoking and vaping crisis and highlight how these intersect to influence tobacco use-related behaviors.

The Drive for Tobacco Control

Major states such as California, New York, Florida, and Texas are at the forefront of implementing comprehensive policies to combat the smoking and vaping crisis. While their approaches may differ, the underlying objective remains the same: reducing tobacco use and protecting public health.

Raising the Minimum Age for Tobacco Purchase

A significant trend among these states is raising the minimum age for tobacco purchase to 21. California raised the minimum age to 21 in 2016, followed by New York in 2019 and Texas in 2020. By increasing the age at which individuals can legally purchase tobacco products, these states aim to reduce youth access and prevent early nicotine addiction.

Flavor Bans

Another common strategy is the implementation of flavored tobacco bans. Massachusetts was the first state to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products (including menthol cigarettes) in 2019. In 2020, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island enacted bans on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Some time after, California became the second state to prohibit the sale of both flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes in 2022. By targeting flavors that appeal to younger people, these states seek to discourage initiation and reduce the overall appeal of vaping.

Cigarette Taxes

High cigarette taxes have proven to be effective in reducing tobacco use, and the current federal cigarette tax is $1.01 per pack. In the US, New York ranks consistently among the highest cigarette taxes in the country. The most recent increase was in 2020, wherein the tax rate rose to $4.35 per pack. As of April 2023, Indiana's House has continued to push the Senate to increase the cigarette tax to $2 (from $0.99) after the Senate decreased this tax on vaping products from 25% to 15% in 2022. By making cigarettes more expensive, states hope to reduce affordability and dissuade individuals from continuing or initiating tobacco use.

Behavioral Impact of Policies

State policies play a crucial role in influencing behaviors related to tobacco use. For one, the 21 policy implementation of Californiasaw a 26% annual decrease in daily smoking among 18–20-year-olds three years post-implementation. Similarly, the NCPC notes that comprehensive flavor bans effectively reduce tobacco use and thus have the potential to improve public health.
However, research notes that flavor bans, on their own, cannot sharply reduce the availability or use of flavored tobacco. Therefore, multifaceted approaches to encourage cessation must be implemented. Thankfully, the accessibility of nicotine alternatives has also increased in recent years. Most modern alternatives like Nicorette gums and patches can now be found in local convenience stores and gas stations, and the catalog of best-selling On! nicotine pouchescan be ordered online and shipped to almost anywhere in the United States. This includes their 2, 4, and 8 mg strengths and flavors such as wintergreen and citrus. This ensures that smokers can access the nicotine alternative of their choice in almost every strength and flavor and have these products delivered straight to their doorsteps.
Of course, opposition from tobacco companies persists, which may continue to impede state policies' efforts. Despite reviews from authority organizations such as NCPC, researchers from vape company JUULinsist that Massachusetts's complete ban on flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems has only significantly increased cigarette sales. Therefore, there is a need for thorough research and evaluation of the impacts of these restrictions.
State policies across major regions intersect as they strive to address the smoking and vaping crisis. As these policies evolve, the collective effort to create a tobacco-free future gains momentum, fostering healthier environments and better health outcomes for all.
If you enjoyed this article, and feel you wish to stop, you might find benefit in our piece titled Stress Relief Techniques At Home - Creating A Soothing Atmospherediscussing how you can make your home stress free, relieving the need for nicotine.
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Karan Emery

Karan Emery

Karan Emery, an accomplished researcher and leader in health sciences, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals, brings over two decades of experience to the table. Holding a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Stanford University, Karan's credentials underscore her authority in the field. With a track record of groundbreaking research and numerous peer-reviewed publications in prestigious journals, Karan's expertise is widely recognized in the scientific community. Her writing style is characterized by its clarity and meticulous attention to detail, making complex scientific concepts accessible to a broad audience. Apart from her professional endeavors, Karan enjoys cooking, learning about different cultures and languages, watching documentaries, and visiting historical landmarks. Committed to advancing knowledge and improving health outcomes, Karan Emery continues to make significant contributions to the fields of health, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals.
Daniel James

Daniel James

Daniel James is a distinguished gerontologist, author, and professional coach known for his expertise in health and aging. With degrees from Georgia Tech and UCLA, including a diploma in gerontology from the University of Boston, Daniel brings over 15 years of experience to his work. His credentials also include a Professional Coaching Certification, enhancing his credibility in personal development and well-being. In his free time, Daniel is an avid runner and tennis player, passionate about fitness, wellness, and staying active. His commitment to improving lives through health education and coaching reflects his passion and dedication in both professional and personal endeavors.
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