Intended and Unintended Effects of E-cigarette Taxes on Youth Tobacco Use
Rahi Abouk, Charles Courtemanche,
Abigail Friedman, Catherine Maclean,
and Samuel Safford
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Over the past decade, rising youth use of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) has prompted aggressive regulation by state and local governments. Between 2010 and 2019, ten states and two large counties adopted ENDS taxes. Applying a continuous treatment difference-in-differences approach to data from two large national datasets (Monitoring the Future and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System), this study explores the impact of ENDS taxes on youth tobacco use. We find that ENDS taxes reduce youth e-cigarette consumption, with estimated e-cigarette tax elasticities of -0.06 to -0.21. However, we estimate sizable positive cigarette cross-tax elasticities, suggesting economic substitution between cigarettes and e-cigarettes for youth. These substitution effects are particularly large for frequent cigarette smoking. We conclude that the unintended effects of ENDS taxation may considerably undercut or even outweigh any public health gains.