New E-cig tax not enough to curb use, expert says


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A new Kentucky law that took effect this week means the price of E-cigarettes is up.

But a Lexington health expert says it’s not enough to change smoking habits.

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Under the new tax, a product like a Juul Pod has a flat tax of $1.50. A refillable vape pen has a 15 percent tax.

But Ellen Hahn, a UK expert and nurse who specializes in health policy and advocates against tobacco and smoking, called the tax increase “weak” because it taxes different products at different price points.

That loses effectiveness toward the health goal of curbing smoking when E-cig products aren’t any better than smoking a cigarette.

She says if Kentucky really wanted to make a change, a higher tax on any E-cigarette product would have been more effective.

“As a nurse, I am passionate about making sure that our policies are tough enough so that we can actually make a dent in this intractable problem that we have and it’s not just tobacco use, but it’s all the chronic disease that’s caused by these products,” Hahn said.

“It’s going to make it very difficult to see a significant reduction in use. And, you know, the sad part about Kentucky is that we lose about 10,000 Kentuckians every year, they die from smoking. And that’s a conservative estimate and that really hasn’t changed over the years,” she added.

As for COVID-19 playing into the issue, because it is a respiratry disease, Hahn says smokers are more vulnerable to extreme symptoms if they test positive for COVID-19.

Hahn also says people might not notice the tax increase on the products yet because companies will offer sales and send people coupons to offset the tax and keep customers.