A number of pro-vaping associations launched a petition to “Act now to stop the EU vape tax”. The objective was to weigh in on the European Union decision to create a specific tax for vaping products.
Currently, less than 50 000 people have signed the petition. The French seem the most highly-motivated to fight this new tax, given they represent over half the signatures.
This lack of motivation can seem surprising, given the fact that taxing e-cigs and vaping products will affect the sales price, and as a result the sales figures for the sector. This measure may also encourage the development of the black market. The risk for consumers is high, with the potential for unreliable and even dangerous equipment flooding the market.
A tax that is hard to understand
Beyond this, the European decision to tax vaping products may be a dangerous development in other ways. High taxes could encourage vaping enthusiasts to turn back to cigarettes. In Italy, for example, the number of smokers actually increased over the year by 500 000 after e-liquids fell under a new fiscal status. This is hard to understand, given the scientific research is almost unanimous in concluding that vaping is significantly less harmful to health than smoking, and represents an excellent smoking substitute.
Taxing electronic cigarettes is surprising from a public health perspective. It must be kept in mind that the tobacco industry is truly powerful and that many lobbying efforts are underway across the various EU commissions to influence economic policy in Europe. Taxing vaping products can give member countries a significant boost to their fiscal income. This financial argument can weigh heavily in the scales.
The petition is still online, and there is still time to support the actions of the pro-vaping collective. Without strong mobilisation at the consumer level, the European Union could adopt a law that goes against public health needs.