A member of Parliament in the UK whose husband once was a life-long smoker compared “taxing vaping” to “extending the sugar tax to sugar-free squash.” As a non-smoker and a non-vaper, many may wonder what my interest in vaping is.
The answer is quite simple. Based on my personal experience, I know how beneficial e-cigarettes are to those who want to quit smoking.
My husband, a lifelong smoker, went from smoking to e-cigarettes two years ago, mainly because of his health. He hasn’t smoked since. In my experience, I’ve also heard many stories about how constituents successfully quit their smoking habits because of vaping.
Clearly, this is an effective way to improve the health of our country. That’s the reason I decided to join the all-party parliamentary group for e-cigarettes. Together with my parliamentary colleagues, the aim is to further investigate how e-cigarettes could complement the government’s smoking cessation strategies.
The Situation in The UK
Up until now, the UK has been leading the fight against smoking-related diseases through public health policies. Public health policies support those who want to use e-cigarettes to quit smoking. E-cigarette products are unique and interesting innovations because their uptake has been entirely consumer-led.
They have helped hundreds of thousands of people reduce or stop smoking and, at zero cost to the NHS, have saved the health service a lot of money.
Consensus on this among our country’s health professionals is quite extensive. Public health experts agree on the benefits of e-cigarettes as a tool to help smokers stay away from tobacco.
The Public Health England, one of the government’s own agencies, has released an evidence-based report that said e-cigarettes could be 95 percent less harmful than smoking.
Public Health England Speaks Out
This is a message we want to spread. Recently, some of my colleagues have provided evidence to members of parliament in Australia where e-cigarettes are banned. It is great to see that the UK’s success in encouraging e-cigarettes is being recognized worldwide.
It should be a source of national pride that we Brits follow the advice of our doctors when developing public health policy.
I was very surprised when I heard worrying rumors from Whitehall that the government might be considering taxing vaping. This would be in stark contradiction to the government’s message so far and would ruin all the great work that has been done so far to encourage smokers to quit.
As policymakers, we often use the tax system to help the public live healthier lifestyles. Hence the so-called “sin taxes” on cigarettes, alcohol, and sugar.
Whether you agree with the principle of the government engaging in behavioral economics or not, taxing vaping will have a regressive impact on public health. It makes no sense to encourage people to switch to e-cigarettes while applying a further tax on it. Frankly, taxing vaping would be like extending the sugar tax to sugar-free squash.
The proposed vaping tax news comes when international pressures are mounting on the industry.
The European Union is once again consulting whether to impose an extra duty on e-cigarettes. The World Health Organisation is encouraging countries to ban e-cigarettes as part of the anti-smoking strategy. The World Customs Organisation is considering if e-cigarettes should be reclassified to pave the way for international customs duties.
If these policies take effect, it would deliver a crippling triple whammy blow to vapers worldwide. Simply put, these polices would lead to higher prices of e-cigarettes. Therefore, fewer smokers would consider switching.
Research shows that one of the main reasons people switch to vaping from smoking is that it’s much cheaper. My husband was surprised at how much money he saved by switching to e-cigarettes.
Smokers are less likely to switch to e-cigarettes, and more likely to stick to what they know without this financial incentive.
It also sends the wrong message that one department of the government is out to punish those who take the very action that another department is trying to encourage.
Smoking brings great harm to your health and puts huge pressure on the NHS. That is the reason why we continue to pursue effective harm-reduction policies. Taxing vaping would fly in the face of that goal.
As a country, we now have the opportunity to lead the world in public health. If the research shows that vaping has a positive effect, then it is highly important that we keep the cost of vaping is well below the cost of cigarettes.
There are about seven million smokers in Britain. If the government is to help them quit, e-cigarettes must play a key role in the solution.
Ryan is a writer, editor and content creator who spends most of his time bringing the interesting, entertaining, original and well-written articles to vapers. He believes that vaping is not only a healthier alternative to smoking, but also a great experience of life.