Declining smoking rates in Europe mean less tax revenue for many fiscally strained governments, but trying to make up for these losses with a tax on electronic cigarettes would be a big mistake, according to piece by Alex Brill published on euractiv.com.
Brill is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington DC-based think tank.
Following actions by some European nations, the European Commission was now contemplating the proper tax treatment of e-cigarettes and had just finalised a public consultation on the topic, he wrote.
Taxing e-cigarettes would have a negative effect on nascent, but important, public health gains for four reasons.
The first reason was that e-cigarettes posed a far lower risk to the health of users and non-users than did traditional tobacco cigarettes.
The second was that e-cigarettes were effective tools for helping smokers quit.
The third was that e-cigarette usage was still relatively low and a tax would discourage smokers from switching.
And the fourth was that taxing e-cigarettes had not proven to address budget woes.
Brill said that the good news was that the clinical evidence clearly indicated that e-cigarettes were less risky substitutes for conventional cigarettes.
‘Given that a core objective of the European Commission Tobacco Products Directive is to ensure “a high level of health protection for European citizens”, the proper tax to levy on e-cigarettes should be self-evident: none,’ he wrote.
The full euractiv.com version of Brill’s piece, which has been published also in media outside of Europe, is at: https://www.euractiv.com/section/health-consumers/opinion/dont-thwart-an-ally-in-the-war-on-tobacco/.