Regarded as a tax advantaged product and also having lower risks than the heavily taxed tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes actually cost higher than conventional cigarettes in most countries, new research has found.
The study exposed the fact that the gap exists despite the fact that e-cigarettes are not yet widely subjected to comparable excise taxes as combustible cigarettes.
For the study, detailed in the journal Tobacco Control, the researchers from the University of Michigan in the US, compared the cost of combustible cigarettes to those for two major kinds of e-cigarettes — disposable e-cigarettes (non-refillable) and rechargeable e-cigarettes, which can be refilled with nicotine liquid.
The findings showed that on an average, the price of a pack of combustible tobacco cigarettes was just over half the price of a disposable e-cigarette in 44 of 45 countries sampled around the world.
While the liquid nicotine used to refill e-cigarettes can cost a couple of dollars less than a pack of regular cigarettes, the minimum price to purchase a rechargeable e-cigarette to use this liquid nicotine is more than $20.
Also, the rechargeable e-cigarettes preferred by most daily e-cigarette users cost even more.
In addition, there is considerable debate in the public health community and media about e-cigarettes and similar new products.
While some see e-cigarettes playing a potential role in helping smokers quit, others point to strong concerns about youth uptake, lack of information about potential harm, lack of product regulation, and industry marketing practices, among other issues, the authors noted.
Some jurisdictions around the world, notably Britain, have achieved price equality between cigarettes and e-cigarettes, the study said.
The researchers, though reinforced the importance of increasing the price of cigarettes through excise taxes.