Italy’s vape market was growing in a similar fashion to the UK’s in 2012 but then a consumption tax was implemented in 2013. Facing a situation where a 10ml juice bottle cost nearly double the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes, the industry crumbled as tens of thousands of vapers returned to the cheaper option of smoking.
ANVPU worked in partnership with INNCO to chip away at the government. The first big step occurred last month, when it was announced that Italy planned to relax a number of measures standing in the way of vaping and tobacco harm reduction.
At the time, President of ANVPU Carmine Canino believed the proposals didn’t go far enough in order to salvage an industry in terminal decline – the key factor remaining to be addressed was the issue of the (what INNCO calls) “iniquitous tax rates on eliquids”.
Letters were sent imploring the government to direct its attention to correcting this position.
INNCO’s Judy Gibson explains: “During the first meeting of the Finance Council on the 20th November, the Italian Ministry of Health lobbied hard for minimal reductions on e-liquid consumption taxes believing that cessation should be the only goal of tobacco control and that tobacco harm reduction merely hindered the process.”
INNCO and ANVPU responded by submitting a comprehensive document to key members of the new Italian coalition government and the Italian media.
The document detailed INNCO’s credentials as an accredited observer to the Independent High Level Commission on non-communicable diseases, and how it works to “promote honest and unbiased information on safer nicotine use”.
It pointed out how “conflating e-liquid with manufactured tobacco leaf for any regulatory purpose runs counter to the guidelines laid down in the WHO Framework on Tobacco Convention”.
Detailing the honest evidence surrounding vaping, the organisations posed the logical question: “Why should ex-smokers be forced to pay double the amount for a product which is at least 95% safer?”
Judy details: “Following a vote by the coalition partners on the 26th November, a decision was reached to reduce the ‘consumption tax rate levied on e-liquid by 80% on nicotine e-liquids and 90% on zero e-liquids.”
The ban on domestic online sales will be rescinded with the proviso that sellers obtain customs warehouse provision for their goods, but the ban on cross-border sales will continue.
Judy adds: “Whilst the final decision is not perfect, this is huge step forward in rebuilding the Italian Vaping Industry and offering vapers and smokers access to affordable products for the first time since the ‘consumption tax’ was imposed in 2013.”