Excise duties for tobacco products are mainly regulated through Directive 2011/64/EU. This Directive denotes the product categories, structure and minimum rates for excise duties on manufactured tobacco, and there is a tax variation between that assigned to cigarettes and to other tobacco products.
The problem? Vaping products are likely to be placed under the umbrella of “other tobacco products”, as in the instance of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), even though they contain no actual tobacco.
The side effects of such a tax
In an article published on their website the NNA summarized their briefing as follows :
“If vapour and other reduced risk products are to be included in the directive then our view is as follows:
- 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.
- 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.
- There is an opportunity to create a regime which will incentivise use of the safer products.
- The risk is that poor policy will reduce this incentive, and so protect the market for smoked tobacco products.
- Excise duty is a ‘sin tax’ and switching to low risk products is a virtue to be encouraged, not a sin to be taxed.”
The suggestions that they are putting forward are that vaping products should be exempt from this tax on the premise that they are of value to public health and that there should be a maximum rate set which reflects the very substantial difference in risk compared to smoked tobacco.
Public Health should be priority
The NNA is urging the European Commission to be very cautious in ensuring public health is not compromised in order to generate revenue through this excise duty. They are also asking the institutions involved in conducting the research prior to the passing such motions, to consider the detrimental effects that smoking has on one’s health, and how imposing a tax on what are known is the most effective smoking cessation tools, would be promoting the current health crises brought about by cigarettes.