NORMAN: Increasing the cigarette tax can provide funding for education and help reduce smoking, but there is still a largely unexploited well of tax revenue: electronic cigarettes.
While consumers pay taxes on sales of these products, products like JUUL, one of the most popular trends among young people, and other electronic cigarettes do not have the same special tax as cigarettes.
"We should be very concerned about our youth," said TSET Executive Director John Woods. "Regardless of the method of consumption, nicotine is detrimental to the developing brain, our brains are developing until age 25. They are damaging their brains and are creating addiction to a harmful product."
JUUL offers nicotine levels similar to cigarettes and looks like a USB flash drive. JUUL can be used in public without releasing vaporized mist and the small size makes it easier to sneak into the classroom.
"My two high school kids say the JUULs are widespread in Norman North," said one parent who asked not to be identified. "Children use them in class regularly."
While some people may use electronic cigarettes to reduce nicotine levels in traditional and combable cigarettes, research has shown that teens and even college students who were previously non-smokers are picking up products like JUUL and becoming addicted to it. nicotine.
"Electronic cigarettes are marketed as a less harmful alternative to cigarette smokers for a long time, but what we are seeing is use among those who have never smoked before, particularly our youth," Woods said.
As director of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Trust (TSET), Woods recently praised state legislators and Governor Mary Fallin for raising the state cigarette tax by $ 1 per package. That price increase, which will come into effect later this summer, is expected to prevent 10,200 deaths related to smoking and 1,700 young people do not start the path of addiction, according to TSET. Woods said those numbers could be dull if children find nicotine through electronic cigarettes without taxes.
"There will be a sales tax on the purchase, but there is certainly no significant tax rate on electronic cigarettes like there are in the tobacco products," Woods said. "The cheapest price point for electronic cigarettes compared to other nicotine products is worrisome – there is no pending legislation regarding the prices of the electronic cigarette, but we certainly believe that it should be part of the conversation."
Lawmakers can tax electronic cigarettes containing nicotine without taxing products such as chewing gum and patches designed to help people quit smoking.  "They could specify which products are taxed and at what rate," Woods said. "It's an emerging issue that we've really only seen public conversation in the last two or three years."
Awareness of the growing popularity among young people and the dangers of nicotine addiction through JUUL, in particular, as well as other electronic cigarettes that deliver nicotine have not yet reached the general public, Woods said.
"There is an awareness that the use and damage of young people must occur with parents and legislators," Woods said.
Teens may not be aware that they are inhaling nicotine and not just water-flavored steam, he said.
Nicotine is toxic and was used in insecticides until the practice was banned in the USA. UU And in other countries. As documented through numerous studies, nicotine negatively affects the heart, reproductive system, lungs and kidneys and is thought to contribute to cancers of the lung and other cancers and diabetes.
"Among middle and high school students, both before and after 30 days The consumption of electronic cigarettes has more than tripled since 2011. Among young adults aged 18-24 years, the consumption of electronic cigarettes doubled with You grow between 2013 and 2014, after a period of relative stability between 2011 and 2013, "according to" E-Cigarette Use Amongh Yoth and Young Adults, "a 2016 report by the Surgeon General.
While the addictive and potentially harmful effects of nicotine are known, the long-term effects of other chemicals inhaled through the use of the electronic cigarette are not currently documented.
"Science is still free," Woods said. "We still do not know what they are inhaling, what the damages and the chemical effects are".
Woods said that the tobacco industry now has its fingers in the vaping and electronic cigarette market.
"What started in the vape community like the local mom and pop stores, I think, will not be as popular in the next few years," he said. "All these cigarette manufacturers that are now in the electronic cigarette business say they are only marketing their product to current smokers, but that is not a sustainable business model."
He is familiar with the original playbook of the cigarette industry that traded cigarettes. Great products That playbook has not changed, Woods said, and it's being used to sell this new product in a new device to the next generation.
"It's a shame because it's harmful," he said. "They are creating an addiction that can last a lifetime with known and unknown health risks for generations to come."
Believes that the model of the tobacco market is revealing of what could be in the future if parents, educators, health professionals and legislators do not put themselves at the head of the growing craze of electronic cigarettes.
"They spend $ 170 million a year on marketing tobacco products alone in Oklahoma," Woods said.
Parents need to know and young people need to be educated, Woods said. Parents can talk about vaping and using electronic cigarettes with their children in the same way they talk about tobacco use. For more information on how to approach the topic, see stopswithme.com, a website run by TSET.
For more information on the dangers and risks of electronic cigarettes, visit e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov.