When Massachusetts outlawed flavored tobacco in 2019, the goal was to reduce smoking, especially among young people - but did it work?
A new study by the Tax Foundation, an economic and political think tank, found that the Massachusetts ban does not appear to have stopped many people from buying tobacco, but it did coincide with increased sales in neighboring states.
“Early signs indicate that the ban will not decrease tobacco consumption in the state,” the Tax Foundation said. “It is not in the interest of Massachusetts to pursue a public health measure that merely sends tax revenue to its neighboring states without improving public health.”
Since June 2020 flavored tobacco products - including menthol cigarettes - have been banned from sale in Massachusetts.
To figure out the effect of the ban, Tax Foundation looked at the sale of tobacco tax stamps from June-September 2019 and the same time period a year later in 2020.
Over the course of a year, tax stamp sales decreased by 24 percent in Massachusetts but went up by 34 percent in New Hampshire and 25 percent in Rhode Island.
Other nearby states saw increased tax stamp sales, too - Vermont sales went up by 11 percent, New York’s rose by 5 percent, and in Connecticut, there was a 3 percent increase.
The Tax Foundation pointed out that the shift has an impact on tax revenue for the states. Taxes collected from cigarette sales decreased by 10 percent in the first half of 2020, which translated into a decline of about $50 million in revenue.
“That revenue is now being collected by Massachusetts’ neighbors,” the Tax Foundation said in a press release.
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