As a global consumer group representing millions of consumers in Europe and globally, we have been working on spreading the harm reduction message to help spread awareness about vaping as a life-saving tool both among smokers and non-smokers. In light of the EU Beating Cancer plan, Dutch vape flavour ban, and proposed German tax on nicotine e-liquids, it appears that the European Union and Member states have decided to turn a blind eye to smokers and push them into abstinence through coercion. Such an approach is disastrous and should be reconsidered.
We urge the EU Commission to follow science and keep the interests of smokers and former smokers in mind as well as the economic costs of excessive taxation of both vaping and tobacco products.
Vaping is a lifesaving tool
Vaping has been proven to be 95% less harmful than smoking and has been endorsed by multiple international health bodies as a safer alternative. While some critics have argued that vaping is a gateway to smoking, the opposite is true. Vaping is a gateway from smoking, and has been used by millions of adults to reduce the health risks associated with tobacco consumption.
Higher taxes on vaping products are particularly harmful to the lower income brackets of the population
The highest proportion of current smokers are from low income population segments. “[Higher taxes on] vaping liquid would raise the proportion of adults who smoke cigarettes daily by approximately 1 percentage point, translating to 2.5 million extra adult daily smokers” in the United States. With tax increases in the EU, similar consequences would be seen in Europe.
Overregulation of tobacco products boosts illicit trade
Smoking should be seen as a matter of consumer choice and personal responsibility. Tobacco products should not see any further scrutiny. The evidence regarding the effectiveness of taxes, marketing and other restrictions is too weak to justify such drastic interventions. Furthermore, such policies encourage illicit trade. Tobacco price disparity between the EU and other countries in Europe is a contributing factor; however, that also demonstrates that despite anti-tobacco efforts, demand for cigarettes doesn’t go away.
Adult consumers should be encouraged to make responsible choices bearing in mind the consequences of their actions. Policies based on respect for consumer choice such as education should be preferred over restrictions.