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April 27, 2021

Taxes on Nicotine Products Should Reflect Degree of Harm or Risk

  • Author Ian Irvine examines alternative nicotine products, from e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn sticks, to oral pods, and proposes that tax rates for individual products reflect their potential health-related harm.
  • The author’s harm-reduction approach recognizes that if safer alternatives to cigarettes are available, policy should be developed with the goal of diverting users – particularly those in vulnerable communities where smoking prevalence remains high – away from higher-risk products towards lower-risk ones.
  • Relative tax rates should reflect our best understanding of the health risks associated with each nicotine- or tobacco-based product. A well-structured set of taxes should aim to encourage smokers to quit or switch to reduced-risk products, but not be too high to drive an illegal market.
Ian Irvine
Ian Irvine

Ian Irvine is a Professor of Economics at the Department of Economics, Concordia University and a Fellow at the School of Irish Studies. He has been on the Faculty at Concordia University since 1978, and was promoted to Professor in 1995.