Washington - Oppose HB 1873 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Washington - Oppose HB 1873

February 26, 2019

House Finance Committee
Washington State Capitol
Olympia, WA 98504

Dear Committee Members,

On behalf of the 49,639 members of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) in Washington, I urge you to oppose House Bill 1873.  This harmful legislation would expand the definition of “tobacco products” to include vapor products that do not contain tobacco.  Defining as a tobacco product something that does not contain tobacco makes no sense as a matter of public policy and would represent serious governmental overreach.

Tobacco is already one of the most heavily taxed and regulated consumer products.  But not all tobacco products pose the same risk.  A growing body of medical and scientific evidence makes clear that smokeless tobacco products, like snus, carry a lower risk than combustible cigarettes.  Since most of the harm associated with cigarettes results from the combustion, new products that heat tobacco without the high temperatures of combustion also carry less risk than conventional cigarettes.

Products that contain nicotine without tobacco pose even less risk.  Unfortunately, the public health community in the United States has been slow to recognize the potential for harm reduction through vapor products.  In the United Kingdom, government studies estimate that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.  Doctors actively encourage vaping not only for its enormously reduced risk, but also as a method of helping smokers to quit altogether. 

The taxation and regulation of tobacco and nicotine products should reflect relative risk.  Subjecting vapor products that contain no tobacco to the same standards as tobacco products will adversely impact the lives of the many smokers who are looking for less harmful options.   Reduced-risk products that do not contain tobacco have played a significant role in harm reduction, with vast public health benefits.  Defining products inaccurately results in governmental overreach and adverse consequences for taxpayers and consumers.  Please oppose HB 1873.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Schatz

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