Tax smokers, not vapers

Tax smokers, not vapers

August 16, 2018

If the UK Government increased the cost of vaping through the imposition of taxes on electronic cigarettes it would discourage the very thing it was trying to encourage: the switch from smoking to vaping.

This was the essence of a statement by Dan Marchant, director of the Vape Club and board member of the UK Vaping Industry Association, following the publication of stories suggesting that the Government was considering taxing electronic cigarettes as part of its autumn budget.

One aim of the tobacco control plan, Marchant said, was to reduce smoking prevalence among people within the lowest earning brackets. Increasing the cost of the most effective alternative to smoking would not help achieve this goal. In fact, it would do the opposite.

Switching from smoking to vaping provided harm reduction benefits, but another of its attractions was that it offered significant monetary savings.  Increasing the cost of vaping would decrease its attractiveness to smokers and have a detrimental effect on encouraging people to move away from tobacco.

The best thing smokers could do for their health, Marchant said, was to quit smoking. However, the evidence was increasingly clear that the use of e-cigarettes was significantly less harmful than was smoking tobacco. The government sought to support consumers in stopping smoking by adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products. At the same time, Public Health England (PHE) had produced guidance for employers and organizations looking to introduce policies on e-cigarettes and vaping in public, and had recommend such policies be evidence-based. PHE recommended that e-cigarette use was not covered by smoke-free legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organization’s smoke-free policy.

Meanwhile, Marchant said that maintaining high duty rates on tobacco products was a proven and effective means to reduce smoking. As well as providing an incentive to quit for those who smoked, it provided a disincentive for young people to take up smoking.

‘Although national smoking prevalence continues to decline, the picture is not so positive for all groups and communities across England,’ he said. ‘Smoking remains highest among populations who already suffer from poorer health and other disadvantages.

‘In 2015, there were almost three times as many smokers among the lowest earners in our society in comparison to the highest earners. In 2016, the prevalence of smoking among people working in jobs classed as routine and manual was more than double that of people working in managerial and professional occupations. If we are to achieve the first smoke-free generation and break this cycle, we must support those populations where smoking rates remain high to quit.’

Marchant said that rather than taxing vapers, the Government should further increase the ‘sin-tax’ on cigarettes. This would raise more money since there were more than seven million smokers and 2.8 million vapers, half of whom still smoked to some degree. Such a strategy would fit with the Government’s tobacco control-plan guidance.

Category: Breaking News

Comments are closed.