Research & Analysis

March 17, 2022

In the fall of 2019, several states announced temporary bans on the sales of vapor products  — Massachusetts implemented a ban on all vapor products in September of 2019, and Rhode Island and Washington instituted similar bans on non-tobacco flavored vapor products in early October.  

Our team of researchers recently published a peer-reviewed study in the journal Value in Health examining the potential consequences of state-level bans on vapor products and the corresponding effect on cigarette sales. Using modeling based on these product bans, commercial data on cigarette sales, and various control variables, the study assessed how the policies in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington may have impacted cigarette sales in those states.

The team found that a full ban on vapor products was associated with increased cigarette sales of 7.5% in Massachusetts, or approximately 1.7 million additional cigarette packs sold in the state.

In Washington and Rhode Island, they found that banning non-tobacco flavored vapor products was associated with a 4.6% increase in cigarette sales, or approximately 1.7 million additional cigarette packs sold.

Figure depicts actual and estimated cigarette sales for Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington State by generalized synthetic control methods.

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that cigarette sales in the states banning vapor products were significantly higher than would have been observed without the bans.

This study adds to the real-world data and evidence on the impact of policies restricting vapor products versus combustible cigarettes for adult smokers. Specifically, this research shows that policies that significantly restrict vapor products are likely deterring current adult smokers from switching and driving former adult smokers back to combustible cigarettes, which remain the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and worldwide.

While all stakeholders in the vapor category must continue to pursue actions that accelerate the decline in underage use of all tobacco products, particularly on restricting access and limiting appeal, it is critical we all work to ensure such actions do not eliminate adult smokers’ access to potentially less harmful alternatives.

To that end, we will continue to combat underage use by supporting evidence-based interventions such as Enhanced Access Controls at retail, along with aggressive enforcement against illegally marketed and illicit products, which undermine the category and harm-reduction potential for adult smokers.

We also remain committed to the PMTA process and constructively cooperating with the FDA to further the harm reduction potential of noncombustible, alternative products while fostering a more responsible marketplace for the vapor category.