Optimal Regulation of E-cigarettes: Theory and Evidence
We model optimal e-cigarette regulation and estimate key sufficient statistics. Using tax changes and scanner data, we estimate relatively elastic demand and limited substitution between e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes. In sample surveys, historical smoking declines for high- and low-vaping demographics were unchanged after e-cigarettes were introduced; this demographic shift-share identification also suggests limited substitution. We field a new survey of experts, who report that vaping is almost as harmful as smoking cigarettes. In our model, these results imply that current e-cigarette taxes are far below the social optimum, but Monte Carlo simulations highlight substantial uncertainty.