Online Program

Pricing and Sales Tax Collection Policies for e-cigarette Starter Kits and Disposable Products Sold Online

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Raphael Cuomo, M.P.H., C.P.H., Family Medicine and Public Health, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA
Angela Miner, RN, MAS, Global Health Policy Institute, La Jolla, CA
Timothy Mackey, MAS, PhD, Dept of Anesthesiology, UC San Diego - School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA
Introduction:  Previous studies have examined select marketing characteristics and product availability of e-cigarettes sold by Internet vendors.  Others have examined pricing and sales volume of e-cigarettes in commercial (non-Internet) retail settings. This study expands on these findings by examining pricing of e-cigarette starter kits and disposable cigarettes sold online.

Methods:  Structured Internet searches and use of an inclusion/exclusion criteria were conducted to identify e-cigarette Internet vendors. We then collected pricing data on all e-cigarette starter kits or disposable product offerings, sales tax collection policies, and other marketing characteristics for reviewed sites. The average price for each product category was then compared to marketing characteristics using linear regression for continuous variables and independent t-tests for binary variables. Web searches were conducted from August-September 2014.

Results:  Our searches yielded 44 e-cigarette Internet vendors of which 77.2% (n=34) sold a total of 238 starter kit offerings (median price=$55.89).  Half (n=22) sold disposable types of e-cigarettes at a mean price of $7.17 p/e-cigarette, a price lower than that reported elsewhere in commercial settings.  Both categories exhibited wide price variations.  Average disposable e-cigarette prices were also significantly higher for vendors displaying more health warning notices (p = 0.001).  Only 45.5% (n=20) disclosed sales tax collection policies and only 38.6% (n=17) collected sales tax in their state of business.

Conclusions:  Though limited in its findings, this study expands on current understanding of e-cigarette pricing and availability online.  Given easy access and low pricing, further research will be necessary to explore the impact of e-cigarette Internet vendors on user initiation and uptake.

Learning Areas:

Biostatistics, economics
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the variation in e-cigarette pricing among Internet-based vendors. Compare e-cigarette prices by Internet vendor characteristics. Discuss regulatory, Internet-based approaches to protecting e-cigarette consumers.

Keyword(s): Tobacco Control, Accessibility

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Ph.D. student in Global Health jointly with both the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and San Diego State University (SDSU). I am currently the Senior Research Associate at the Global Health Policy Institute, a UCSD affiliate. I have several years of experience in public health research, in which I have worked with numerous research organizations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.