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EU holds off on e-cig tax – for now

The EU Commission has reviewed the evidence on vaping and decided that, for the moment, it doesn’t have enough evidence to impose a tax on the products across the whole political union. They haven’t dropped the idea, though – and they plan to take another look next year.

While the EU has infuriated vapers by forcing through the hated Tobacco Products Directive, which places unnecessary restrictions on e-cigarettes, it also seems determined to impose a punitive tax on the products. Originally this idea cane from the EU Council, who asked for “harmonisation” of taxes on e-cigs across the EU. It seems that the Council wants to make up for falling revenue from cigarette taxes, but would prefer the law to come from the EU rather than their own governments. This ties in perfectly with the EU’s own dislike for vaping.

The Commission’s decision not to impose a tax right now is only a short-term one. A new report on EU tobacco taxes will be produced next year, and commissioners have already announced that they’ll look at vapour products again in that report. Anti-harm reduction groups are already lobbying intensively, and it seems to be working – the Commission says that one option is to tax vapour products at the same rate as smoked tobacco.

Tennessee rep slams NRT, pushes vaping as alternative

In a column for The Tennessean, a member of the state house of representatives has argued that vapour products have an essential role to play in reducing the state’s smoking rate. Pointing out that traditional quit products have a dismal failure rate, Representative Cameron Sexton cited the Public Health England review and several other sources, including FDA chief Scott Gottlieb’s statement that there is a continuum of risk from nicotine products, to urge state lawmakers to take a more positive approach towards harm reduction.

Sexton, a Republican who represents the 25th District, pointed out that the only tobacco alternatives on offer from the state are patches and gum. That’s despite the state having passed a comprehensive e-cig law in 2015 that banned under-age sales and exempted vapour products from the state’s smoking ban. It makes sense, he says, for public health officials to educate smokers about reduced-harm alternatives.

Filipino consumer group put pressure on medics

The Philippines is known for its draconian approach to anything strongman leader Rodrigo Duterte doesn’t approve of, and it isn’t a vape-friendly country either, despite having a strong local industry. The medical establishment, including the influential Philippine College of Chest Physicians, has been strongly against harm reduction options for years. Now a pro-consumer group is challenging the College to update their approach and follow the example of the British Medical Association, which abandoned its own opposition to vaping recently.

Tom Pinlac, president of The Vapers Philippines, called on the College to examine the reasons for the BMA’s change of direction. The organisation explained this in a position paper released last November, titled “E-cigarettes: Balancing risks and opportunities”. While it still focused more on the largely non-existent risks than vaping advocates would have liked, it did represent significant progress; if the Filipino medical establishment can be persuaded to follow, that will make life much easier for the country’s former smokers.

CASAA condemns “misleading” CDC campaign

The Consumer Advocates for Smokefree Alternatives Association issued a statement last week strongly condemning a CDC campaign that they say is misleading and potentially harmful to public health.

CASAA decided to make their complaint after public comments were requested on a new data collection system. The system was submitted to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for review, and OMB then asked the public to give their views. CDC want more funding to collect and review data from their “Tips From Smokers” campaign. That was a good opportunity for CASAA to highlight the agency’s damagingly misguided approach to vaping.

The specific target of the statement is a campaign which included the story of “Kristy”, who was quoted as saying, “I started using e-cigarettes but kept smoking. Right up until my lung collapsed.” CASAA pointed out that Kristy did indeed take up vaping, but never stopped smoking and soon abandoned vapour products. There was no link between vaping and her collapsed lung, but CDC clearly tried to imply that there was. CASAA are asking OMB to deny funding and make CDC rework the campaign to remove misleading messages.

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