In 2014, research was published in Italy showing that smokers had a good level of awareness of vaping. It found 3.5 million smokers had tried it, which resulted in more than 600,000 Italians regularly using e-cigarettes to reduce or quit smoking. [link]
With reports that the global vape market was predicted to be worth over $7billion by the end of that year, legislators sensed an opportunity to grab a slice of the action without thinking of the consequences. By the following year, Italian politicians had levied an eye-watering 80.5% tax rate on eliquids.
It resulted in the obscene situation where a 10ml bottle of juice cost nearly double the price of a packet of cigarettes. Vapers flocked back to smoking in their tens of thousands and the nascent vape industry in Italy crumbled.
It took three years of constant campaigning, to “rescind or drastically reduce the onerous tax burden on e-liquids”, by Italian vaping organisation ANVPU and the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) to bear fruit.
A 2016 report found that similar measures being adopted in individual states in the USA was achieving the same response and taxes on eliquid acted as a disincentive for smokers looking to make the switch.
New Zealand’s Green Party has failed to learn from the lessons overseas, supporting an introduction of an excise tax on vaping products (while not increasing tax on tobacco).
“Huge tobacco excise has long failed our poorer communities.The prospect of also adding an excise tax to vaping – the world’s most effective smoking cessation tool – makes no sense. Smokers switch to vaping because it’s 95% less harmful and considerably cheaper on the family budget. Implementing an excise tax on vaping products would simply see fewer smokers quit cigarettes,” says Nancy Loucas, Co-director of AVCA.
Jacinda Ardern is still to form her coalition government with the balance of power resting in either the hands of the New Zealand First party (who oppose vape taxes) or the Green alternative. For the time being, the Greens’ policy to implement an excise tax on vaping products is a distinct possibility.