In a recent study, conducted by the American Cancer Society (ACS), found that traditional cancer-causing cigarettes remain cheaper than electronic cigarettes within 44 of the 45 countries studied. The ACS found that the cost of traditional cigarettes was still lower in most places, despite the fact that they are still heavily taxed, much higher than e-cigarettes.
The study sampled prices of combustible cigarettes, disposable electronic cigarettes and rechargeable cigarettes (refillable nicotine liquid) from 45 countries. More so, the study found cigarettes to, be on average, half the price (at $5) of their electronic version counterpart ($8.50). This goes against the advert that e-cigarettes are taking advantage of lower tax duty in order to undercut the old competition.
Warnings of electronic cigarettes being a cheap, tax advantaged product relative to heavily taxed traditional cigarettes has been repeatedly claimed within the scientific literature and media.
In a way, e-cigarettes have become something like that of the CD; which entered the world priced much higher than that of vinyl records it was meant to replace, despite being cheaper to make.
E-cigarettes also remain, for the most part, unregulated when compared to cigarettes. Regulation, especially in the way of taxes, could drive the price up, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that prices will remain high. E-cig manufacturers could always lower prices and take a hit on their profits in order to drive up their sales. But do we really see them doing this?
The health effects of e-cigarettes are still debatable. In a United Kingdom study found that they are up to 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes; while also recommending they be prescribed by the U.K.’s National Health Service to help people quit. Elsewhere however, e-cigarettes are seen as a gateway drug leading people to regular cigarettes.
The study’s authors reinforce the importance of increasing the price of traditional cigarettes through excise taxes, while suggesting that taxing e-cigarettes is complex. Some jurisdictions around the world have achieved price equality between cigarettes and electronic cigarettes. Whether and how that policy changes the use of these two products around the world remains to be seen.