European politicians ought to heed what has happened in Estonia as they push to increase the tax on e-liquid across the European Union. Estonia witnessed an explosion in illegal trade and cross-border activity as a result of their similar measures and have finally realised that ending the approach is the best way to ensure product safety for consumers.
Tarmo Kruusimäe, Member of the Estonian Parliament and Chairman of the Parliament's Smoke Free Estonia Support Group, said: "Suspending the collection of excise duty will make it possible to lower the price of e-liquids and thus offer consumers controlled and safe products at a lower price. It has the potential to become a success story if we manage to reduce both the illicit trade and cross-border trade and at the same time offer less harmful alternatives to cigarettes at a more competitive price.”
Estonians had been paying €0.2 per millilitre – or rather, Estonians began sourcing their liquids from Latvia and Russia where prices were considerably lower. NNA Smoke Free Estonia says that another problem with the measure was that young people became clients of the unregulated black market.
Ingmar Kurg, CEO of NNA Smoke Free Estonia (1) and a member of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO), commented: “Estonia's example with over-taxation of e-liquids should definitely be an educational experience for other countries as well. If laboratory-tested and legal products are made too expensive for consumers, they will look for solutions in the black market, self-mixing and cross-border trade. Some people give up e-cigarettes and return to smoking, which happened in Estonia.”
Kruusimäe added: “Estonia should follow the example of European countries which have realised that less harmful products can be used to quit smoking successfully, thus reducing the smoking rate. Estonia should also set itself the goal of becoming a smoke-free country and use the potential of less harmful products to achieve this.”
The United Kingdom leads the world in using tobacco harm reduction and vaping to combat the blight of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
"The Estonian e-cigarette black market is like a stool standing on four legs - extremely high excise duty, flavour ban, e-commerce ban and other restrictions. Today, we are breaking the leg of excise duty from the black-market stool to make legal e-cigarette liquids more competitive. It is in everyone's common interest to offer adults a more diverse choice to quit smoking with less harmful products,” concluded Kruusimäe.
- New Nicotine Alliance Estonia - https://nna.ee