EU Vape Tax

Posted 13th February 2017 by Dave Cross
The EU Commission published a survey on taxing tobacco products back in November, last year. Vape products form a part, among the tobacco-related products, in this survey that asks whether vaping should be subject to taxation in the EU. Also, the EU would like your ideas on how such taxes should be introduced. In addition, the Commission also offers the possibility to submit your general opinions by uploading text at the end of the survey.

This consultation activity on excise duties ends on 16th February, so anybody wishing to add their feelings on the matter has about a week to take part. The worrying thing is that unless people speak up for a product that offers a genuine reduced level of harm, British vaping could see itself with the tax impositions that have had a catastrophic impact on other nations around the world.

The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) write: “There is no case on principled or practical grounds to apply excise duties to vaping products and other products that offer a much safer alternative to smoking.  The value to health and wellbeing associated with switching from smoking to vaping will exceed any benefits arising from revenue collection. Just as it was with the Tobacco Products Directive, the inclusion of products which do not contain tobacco in the Tobacco Excise Directive is unhelpful and risks creating confusion in the minds of consumers.”

The organisation believes:

  1. Excise policies on reduced risk products can have a significant negative impact for human health and is inconsistent with EU requirements to make policy with a high level of health protection.
  2. The EU principle of 'non-discrimination' requires that products with very different characteristics are not treated in the same way - the vast difference in health risks means that reduced risk products must have zero or very low taxation relative to smoked tobacco products.
  3. There is an opportunity to create a regime which will incentivise use of the safer products.
  4. The risk is that poor policy will reduce this incentive, and so protect the market for smoked tobacco products.
  5. Excise duty is a 'sin tax' and switching to low risk products is a virtue to be encouraged, not a sin to be taxed.

“We urge the European Commission, European Council and member state tax authorities,” it writes, “to take great care in striking the balance between public health, revenue raising and administrative costs.”

The Independent British Vape Trade Association is, understandably, opposed to a tax levy increasing the cost of its members’ products too. It contends: “If [vape products] are included in the directive then a zero rate duty must be allowed. There should be a maximum rate set which reflects the very substantial difference in risk compared to smoked tobacco.”

The full NNA briefing paper is available for reading here.

The Commission’s consultation form is available for completion here.

“It would be excellent if consumers could respond. It only takes about 15 minutes to do,” said Jessica Harding on behalf of the NNA. 


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker