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Irish Government Pauses New Vape Tax

Irish Minister for Finance Michael McGrath postponed the implementation of a vaping tax over concerns that it would discourage smokers who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking

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The Irish Minister for Finance Michael McGrath has postponed the implementation of a vaping tax over concerns that it would discourage smokers who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking. Officials from the Department of Finance announced the step back in a pre-budget submission, noting that “a delicate balance needed to be struck”.

Chris Macey, Director of Advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation originally celebrated news of a potential tax on vapes back in 2023, saying: “Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet and there has been an explosion in youth use of e-cigarettes that has been further fuelled by the advent of disposable vapes. We can’t afford to wait a moment longer than necessary to impose this tax.

The Government knows the threat they pose to the future health of our children and that higher taxes could significantly reduce the number of child vapers because of their sensitivity to price increases.”

The Department, on the other hand, has had a rare rush of common sense, suggesting that the “comparative health harms versus tobacco products” means that more thought needs to be put in to the proposals before implementation.

It is a complex tax to implement without an EU framework, so this will take some time to design and operationalise,” the Department of Finance’s submission says.

The World Vapers' Alliance noted that the Department of Finance officials mentioned that a balance needed to be found to discourage young people from vaping while also supporting existing smokers using e-cigarettes to switch.

Michael Landl, Director of the World Vapers' Alliance, commented: “We welcome the decision of the Minister of Finance and ask the Irish Government to keep a tax differential between electronic and traditional cigarettes in the future large enough to incentivise smokers to switch. The risk profile of vaping products is much lower than that of combustion cigarettes and they should be taxed as such. If the tax had been approved, it would have pushed tens of thousands of vapers back to smoking”.

The World Vapers' Alliance says that research has shown that increasing vaping taxes can lead to higher smoking, particularly among young adults.

The Department of Finance submission also expressed concerns over vapers switching to the black market in case the tax was enacted. Implementation of the tax was postponed with no new date in sight, while the government also waits for an EU framework to ease its implementation. The update of the EU Tobacco Tax Directive is expected to include a EU wide excise tax on vaping products.

Michael Landl added: “Taxing vaping products similarly to combustion cigarettes would have a negative impact on public health as it would push vapers back to smoking or the black market and discourage smokers from switching. We recommend other countries and the EU to follow Ireland's example and refrain from implementing vaping taxes.”

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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