This may not turn out to be relevant for UK vapers, but 2019 could be the year that all vapour products are taxed in the EU. This isn’t a drill, this is real. Perhaps it’s something we should have expected to come down the line, as vaping grew hugely in popularity. Yet, we’ve always been so happy to distinguish vaping products from tobacco products, which are obviously taxed. The potential to have this hit the EU vaping community is real, and it’s here.
All of this is outlined in the EU taxation report on tobacco products. In there, the proposal is to “harmonise” the tax treatment of “novel” products such as electronic cigarettes. It’s pretty funny to think that adding a tax to consumers would be considered making anything more harmonious. It’s also funny to think that electronic cigarettes and other vapour products could be considered novel, where as we have seen just how mainstream vaping has become.
The thing is, some countries already tax vaping products. Croatia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, and Slovenia are the offending countries. The problem isn’t a tax per se, it’s that vaping needs to be a far more attractive option for smokers. Anything that closes the gap, especially monetarily, is a bad idea. Vaping being cheaper is one of the 9 reasons it beats smoking. So why would we do anything to make it less cheap?
This is the question we have to be asking about the EU. The states that do tax vapour products haven’t seen the type of decline in smoking rates compared to other EU states. There has to be a connection, and if we’re to ignore that it will hurt the welfare of all EU citizens.
Will Brexit Save Us?
Without diving into any of the politics of good or bad, we have to wonder if Brexit will be our saving grace. The UK leaving the European Union means that many things will change, and the question is how will taxation work. When there is an EU-wide tax directive like might happen with vaping, will the UK stand idly by? Will we see the UK become a haven of duty-free for vapour products? If the tax is drastic, we may even see vapour tourism here.
This question may take a while to answer completely, especially with all the recent turmoil. PM Theresa May is aiming for what is considered a “soft” Brexit, to the dismay of some of her colleagues. Through it all, she appears to be sticking to her plan, at least for now. How closely the UK decides to remain with the EU is a major point of contention. Might the taxation of electronic cigarettes come up in negotiations?
Whether it does or doesn’t, this is certainly a development that the vaping community needs to stand up and fight for. Already, there is a petition to stop the EU vape tax, which has turned out over 17,00 signatures. Clearly, this EU tax idea has touched a nerve. Vapers want premium vapour products, but not at an unreasonable premium price. It’s a legitimate demand.
We’re hopeful that there will be a change of course for this proposed EU vapour tax. The numbers bear out what vapour has down for millions. It’s simply changed lives. The idea of hampering this progress by inflating the prices of vapour products with a tax isn’t a good one. When lawmakers come together to speak about this, it should be a prime consideration. There will always be divergent interests and lobbying, but in the end the government is comprised to serve the people. Certainly a vape tax will not serve the people. It won’t serve vapers, and it won’t serve EU society as a whole.