UK: Government Will Propose Vape Tax in March

After nearly a decade of progressive vaping policy, the British government is likely this year to impose a tax on vaping products for the first time. The Conservative Party-led government believes a tax will dissuade youth from vaping, and also wants to offset lost revenue from eliminating some other taxes.

The tax will be announced with the release of the government’s budget on March 6, according to The Mirror, which first reported the tax proposal Saturday. The newspaper said a tax is “almost inevitable,” and could increase vape prices by at least 25 percent, according to a government source.

Imposing a tax was among the possible actions proposed by the government in a public consultation that ended in early December. Responses to the consultation will supposedly be considered when the government announces a plan this year. Other possible measures include vape flavor restrictions, a ban on disposable vapes, and regulating images on vape packaging.

Research shows that taxes on vaping products increase cigarette sales and use.

In October, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced his government intends to pass a so-called “smokefree generation” law that would slowly ban the sale of cigarettes in England by increasing the legal age to purchase by one year each year. At that time, he also said changes to vaping laws would be considered too.

Passing a smokefree generation law or a vape tax would require approval from Parliament, where some in Sunak’s own party have said they’ll oppose the measures. However, the rival Labour Party is likely to help the Conservative PM find the necessary votes.

Nearly fifty countries have some form of vape tax. Most have a per-milliliter e-liquid tex, or base the tax on the wholesale cost of products. The United States has no federal tax on vaping products, but 31 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have chosen to impose their own taxes.

Research shows that taxes on vaping products increase cigarette sales and use. Vapes and cigarettes are economic substitutes—meaning that taxes, flavor restrictions, or other government actions that reduce e-cigarettes’ competitive advantages versus tobacco will increase cigarette sales and smoking, including among teenagers.