The prospect of a hefty tax on all vaping products will be mulled over again next year by the European Commission
The European Union has decided not to tax any vaping products, at least until next year. This was agreed on by the European Commission last month. The commission is the executive authority for the entire EU, meaning they must decide if vaping products will be taxed under the same regulations as tobacco products. In their report to the Council of Finance Ministers, the Commission stated that there was a lack of evidence to justify taxing vaping products under the same stringent conditions as tobacco. However, they avoided a definitive call, opting instead to kick the can down the road further until next year.
The threat of increased taxes is nothing new for experienced vapers. In fact, it’s been relatively common for government officials to propose or pass substantial fees on vaping by merely equating their risk with that of traditional cigarettes. It’s become far too easy for politicians to generate additional income by using vaping as a scapegoat. Not only do these taxes make vaping more expensive for everyone, but they perpetuate a false understanding of vaping among the general public.
Proposed EU Tax
Vapor products are not currently taxed under the EU tobacco excise directives, and it’ll remain that way for at least the rest of 2018. But many are worried that it’s only a matter of time before the European Commission votes to tax e-cigarettes the same as regular cigarettes. This is especially true now that the UK will likely be leaving the EU formally at some point this year. Meaning the most influential advocate of vaping rights will no longer be in the negotiations. Even if they’re still officially part of the talks next year, it’s unlikely that they’ll feel much pressure to steer them. Not that they’ll have a lot of negotiating power even if they wanted too.
The bottom line for vaping in the European Union is that things are majorly in limbo. The bright side is that even without the UK, extended protection from excessive taxes is a distinct possibility. The report regarding this year’s talks said: “opinions on possible health effects of e-cigarettes and, consequently, the appropriate tax treatment largely diverge.” So it seems that a vaping tax will face a tough fight regardless. Nine of the 28 member EU currently have their own taxes in place for vaporizers and e-liquids. These countries, which include Greece, Italy, Finland, and Portugal, all believe that there is enough of a danger to justify additional taxes. For the vapers of these countries and those of any jurisdiction that has placed harsh charges on vaping products, the effects have been dire.
The Effect Of Vaping Tax
You don’t have to look long to find several cases of government officials going way overboard and taxing vaping products as severely, if not worse than cigarettes. For instance, in late 2016 the Pennsylvania legislature decided to place a 40% tax on all vaping products. Although they sold it as a bid to reduce the harm posed by e-cigarettes, critics claim the hefty tax was merely a way for the state to pay down their debt without raising sales or income tax. Regardless of motives, the result was clear. Over 100 vape shops closed over the ensuing year, accounting for over 25% of all shops in the state.
Worse yet, other even higher taxes have since been proposed, such as the 75% tax sponsored by Governor Malloy of Connecticut. Luckily, not everyone in the government thinks it’s a good idea to shamelessly seek revenue through raising the price of a valuable health aide. The House Speaker for Connecticut, Joe Aresimowicz said about the proposed 75% tax, “If you make a product that is just not affordable locally or they can get it substantially cheaper on the internet, that’s what will happen… We can’t find ourselves in another situation where we banked on revenues coming into the state of Connecticut that evaporated and finding ourselves in another deficit six, eight months from now.’’
Taxes of this magnitude will only lead to more closures, and ultimately fewer smokers are trying vaping as a smoking cessation tool. Currently one of the most significant problems facing vaping as a whole is the poor public perception, which is only reinforced by the passage of substantial taxes. A poll conducted by Action on Smoking and Health found that only 13% of respondents believed vaping was much safer than smoking, while over 25% thought e-cigarettes were just as, if not more dangerous than combustible cigarettes.
Several studies by well-known universities such as Rutgers and Colombia have concluded that vaping is likely the single best tool we have in the fight against smoking. We need to do all we can do as a society to get vaporizers into the hands of as many smokers as possible. But these taxes are just too high for any business to thrive, therefore making a transition to vaping that much harder. It’s unfair to restrict vaping on the same grounds we restrict smoking just because they appear similar.
A majority of the peer-reviewed research into vaping indicates it’s at least 95% safer than smoking. Not to mention the fact that vaping is factually a separate process than smoking. Just because vaping has become a natural scapegoat for politicians looking to make some quick revenue, doesn’t mean it has to stay this way. With some common sense action, we can inform enough of the public to ensure that no government officials can pass unfair regulations onto the vaping industry.
Do you think the EU will ultimately decide to tax vaping products? Do you agree that taxes have a very adverse effect on the number of people who pick up vaping? How can we work to prevent politicians from easily passing hefty fees on vaping products? Let us know in the comments.