UK vaping rate up 70% in two years – smoking at new record low

E-cigarette use continues to grow rapidly in the UK, as vaping proves to be an extremely successful replacement for smoking. Newly released data from the NHS shows that 6.3% of British adults were current vapers in 2016, compared to 3.7% in 2014. Meanwhile just 14.7% of adults are smokers, the lowest figure ever recorded.

At the same time, just 6% of 11-15 year olds reported that they currently smoke; like the adult figure, this is the lowest on record. As for vaping, 25% of this age group reported having tried an e-cigarette, but other data shows that the number of them who vape regularly is around 1% – and almost all of those are current or former smokers. Despite “gateway effect” hysteria pushed by a range of public health extremists, the so-called teen vaping epidemic resolutely refuses to appear in the UK and there’s no evidence that vaping is “renormalizing” smoking.

Public Health England’s chief executive, Duncan Selbie, called the data “really positive news”, while the agency’s tobacco control chief Martin Dockrell said, “Vaping remains the most popular way to quit and already this year several major studies have said it is twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapy.”

Vermont aims to destroy tobacco harm reduction with massive vape tax

The ultra-liberal state of Vermont declared all-out war on safer alternatives to smoking on Monday, as a punitive 92% tax was imposed on e-cigarettes. Thanks to the massive levy, vapour products will now cost about the same as tobacco cigarettes – removing a major incentive to switch. The tax will be applied to devices, liquid, prefilled cartridges, “vaping hoodies” and “repair parts that can only be used in vaping devices”.

The originator of the tax, Democratic Party state representative George Till, chose a particularly destructive way to go about it. An additional sales tax is reasonably survivable for businesses that can absorb the loss of sales, because no tax has to be paid until products have actually been sold (and the tax collected from the consumer). However, Vermont is collecting a wholesale tax, which shops have to pay before they sell their stock; for many small businesses, effectively doubling the cost of their stock is just too much to cope with; when Pennsylvania introduced a 40% wholesale tax in 2016, over 500 vape shops went out of business.

With the Vermont tax set at such an eye-watering level, we can expect most of the state’s vape shops to quickly go out of business. That will leave many smokers with no alternative to tobacco cigarettes, which will still be available at every petrol station and convenience store – and, thanks to Till’s tax, they’ll be just as affordable as safer alternatives.

JUUL pushes on with challenge to San Francisco e-cig ban

A campaign to overturn San Francisco’s total ban on e-cig sales should go to the city’s voters in November, it was revealed on Tuesday. Nate Allbee, a spokesman for the Coalition for Reasonable Vaping Regulations, said the campaign has collected around 20,000 signatures; 9,458 were required for its proposals to be included in the city’s next mammoth pile of referenda and elections.

CRVR’s proposals include placing limits on how many devices or cartridges a vaper can purchase at one time, both online and from vape shops. Usually these would be seen as draconian assaults on vapers; the fact they’re being bankrolled by an e-cig company shows just how insane California’s war on harm reduction has become.

New study shows vaping taxes interact with cigarette tax

A new study by the USA’s National Bureau of Economic Research has found that taxes on vapour products interact with taxes on traditional cigarettes – and make it less likely that smokers will quit.

According to the study results, when taxes on cigarettes are increased adults buy fewer cigarettes and more e-cigarettes; in other words, they switch to a cheaper (and safer) option. However, when taxes on vapour products are increased, adults buy fewer e-cigarettes – and the effect of taxes on cigarette sales is reduced.

Several US states have already slammed vapers with punitive taxes, and others are considering it. What this new research shows is that taxing safer alternatives makes smokers less likely to switch to them, and it also makes them less likely to stop buying cigarettes if the tax on those increases. Unless your aim is to protect cigarette sales – and the Master Settlement Agreement payments that come with them – then a state e-cigarette tax is clearly a very bad idea. However, tobacco control extremists continue to push for them across the USA and in the EU Parliament.

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Veteran, vaper and writer. All articles express my own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the Editor's view.