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Standardising the measurement of e-cigarette taxes in the USA, 2010–2020
  1. Chad Cotti1,
  2. Erik Nesson2,
  3. Michael F Pesko3,
  4. Serena Phillips3,
  5. Nathan Tefft4
  1. 1 Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA
  2. 2 Economics, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA
  3. 3 Department of Economics, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  4. 4 Delivery Experience Finance,, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael F Pesko, Department of Economics, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302-3992, USA; mpesko{at}


Introduction E-cigarette taxes have been enacted by 30 states through April 2020. E-cigarette tax schemas vary, in contrast to cigarette taxes in the USA that are levied almost exclusively as excise taxes per pack. Some states use excise taxes on liquid and containers, others ad valorem taxes on wholesale prices and others sales taxes. It is therefore difficult to understand the relative magnitudes of these e-cigarette taxes and the overall e-cigarette tax size relative to the cigarette tax size.

Objective To create and publish a database of state and local quarterly e-cigarette taxes from 2010 to 2020, standardised as the rate per millilitre of fluid.

Methods Using Universal Product Code-level e-cigarette sales from the NielsenIQ Retail Scanner Data along with e-cigarette product characteristics collected from internet searches and visits to e-cigarette retailers, we develop a method to standardise e-cigarette taxes as an equivalent average excise tax rate measured per millilitre of fluid.

Results In 2020, the average American resided in a location with $3.08 in cigarette taxes and $0.34 in e-cigarette taxes (assuming 1 pack=0.7 fluid mL).

Conclusions The public availability of this state and local standardised e-cigarette tax data will allow tobacco control researchers to study the relationship between e-cigarette taxes and tobacco and related outcomes more effectively.

  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • taxation
  • economics

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  • Contributors CC, EN and NT collected the e-cigarette UPC code data. MFP and SP analysed the Nielsen Retail Scanner Data. All authors were involved in developing the methods and writing/revising the paper.

  • Funding This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health (R01DA045016). MFP and SP are supported in their work on this manuscript by R01DA045016 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health. Over the past 3 years, authors report funding from the National Institutes of Health (MFP and NT), American Cancer Society (MFP), University of Kentucky Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise (MFP), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (NT), and for COVID-19-related consulting/expert testimony for the United South and Eastern Tribes and American Civil Liberties Union (CC). NT worked on this project while a faculty member at Bates College.

  • Disclaimer Sponsors had no role in the design and conduct of the study. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institutes of Health. Researcher(s) own analyses calculated (or derived) based in part on data from Nielsen Consumer and marketing databases provided through the NielsenIQ Datasets at the Kilts Center for Marketing Data Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.