Concerns are being raised about an EU leaked draft plan to increase the tax on vaping products given the set backs it may have on decreasing smoking rates.
High vape taxes will have an especially negative effect on people who are financially challenged, which is unfortunately known to be the group making up the largest proportion of current smokers.
The proposed EU-wide tax amendments would increase the EU’s minimum excise tax on cigarettes from €1.80 to €3.60 per pack of 20, raising prices in Eastern European countries where packs can be sold for less than 3 euros. Moreover, the Financial Times revealed that the EU Commission plans to “bring the taxation of novel smoking products, such as vapes and heated tobacco, into line with cigarettes.”
Tobacco harm reduction experts and consumer groups alike are highlighting that such a tax will not only have a detrimental effect on public health, but also start a massive new black market for vaping products.
“The Commission claims that higher taxes will improve public health, but the reality is the exact opposite. A less harmful alternative, such as vaping, must be affordable for ordinary smokers trying to quit cigarettes. If the Commission wants to reduce the burden of smoking on public health, they must make vaping more affordable and accessible, not less,” said Michael Landl, Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA).
Taking into account that vaping is essential for most smokers seeking to quit, high taxes on vaping products will have an especially negative effect on people who are financially challenged, which is unfortunately known to be the group making up the largest proportion of current smokers.
“High taxes hit the least advantaged people most. In times of multiple crises and people struggling to make ends meet, making vaping more expensive is the opposite of what we need. Policymakers must understand that tax increases on vaping will force people back to smoking or the black market, a scenario nobody wants. In times of crisis, people shouldn’t be further punished by an unscientific and ideological fight against vaping. This must be stopped,” said Landl.
The EU’s intention to pressure Sweden to ban snus
Sadly, leaked documents indicate that the plan also aims to force Sweden to set in place the tax on snus at an unreasonable level. In a press release, founder of the EUforsnus movement (@EU4snus on Twitter) Bengt Wiberg explained that the group will now start using hashtags #VetoEUsnusmurder, #EUsnusmurder& #StopEUsnusmurder, and is getting in touch with harm reduction entities to draw attention to the matter.
The leaked document indicates that if the proposal becomes reality, a can of General loose snus would cost over SEK 120, increasing by approximately SEK 62 compared to today. Patrik Hildingsson, head of communications at Swedish Match, believes this extra tax is unacceptable. “The already heavily taxed Swede seems to tolerate a high degree of patronage. But here I think we are actually crossing the line,” he said.