In the last few days, reports suggest that a tax on vaping products is being proposed. Supposedly, this initiative is to increase this year’s autumn budget by £40million and help fund the extra £20billion which has been pledged to the NHS.

Most tax increases are met with their fair deal of criticism but this vape tax seems particularly unreasonable. This proposed levy is being brandished as a ‘sin tax’, which is commonly known as an excise on products deemed harmful to society.

This is despite support for vaping from Public Health England and other recognised health groups as well as an increasing numbers of people viewing e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid. There are now an estimated 2.9 million vapers in the UK, over half of which are now ex-smokers.

The proposed excise is a 5% tax duty on vaping products. Apparently, this would cost vapers £13.75 a year extra and would raise almost £40million. These figures are based on an average spend of £275 a year on e-liquid.

While this may not sound like a lot of money, the principle of the proposal is farcical. Taxing products (which are helping smokers quit) to give the NHS funding to allow for treatment of the effects of smoking seems ludicrous.

Cancer Research UK stated “Taxing e-cigarettes creates a barrier to smokers accessing them, especially poorer smokers, for whom smoking prevalence is much higher than the rest of the EU population. This would make it harder for them to access e-cigarettes to quit smoking.

The goal of tobacco taxation is to reduce the prevalence of smoking and the wide range of serious diseases caused by combustible tobacco – since evidence indicates e-cigarettes are contributing to a  reduction in smoking prevalence, they should not in our view be subject to addition taxation.”

The perception of vaping has already been damaged over the years by sensationalist news. The strict TPD ruling did not help to improve these views and a tax duty would undoubtedly encourage more unwarranted scepticism around e-cigarettes.

Chris Snowdon, Institute of Economic Affairs said “The UK’s liberal approach to vaping has become a model for the rest of the world.” He added that a vaping tax would harm the UK’s health.

The IBVTA has previously met with treasury officials to oppose taxation vaping products and will continue to do so.

We hope to see fair industry regulation for both vaping businesses and consumers. It is unfortunate that despite growing evidence in support of vaping as a cessation aid, it still receives unfair treatment.

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