The U.K.-based New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) strongly condemns the concept of “sin taxes” being applied to nicotine products that had a “proven track record of helping smokers who choose to quit or dramatically reduce their risk of smoking-related disease.”
The NNA was responding to media reports on Thursday quoting Whitehall sources as claiming that taxation of vaping products was being considered as part of the autumn Budget.
“E-cigarettes are a proven safer alternative to smoking and the U.K. boasts 1.5 million former smokers who have converted from combustible tobacco to exclusively vaping instead,” said NNA chair Sarah Jakes. “Applying a so-called ‘sin tax’ is completely inappropriate for products which have a successful track record of diverting smokers away from combustible tobacco. Switching from smoking to vaping is not ‘sinning’, it is the exact opposite.”
“The U.K. has spent decades trying to convince smokers to quit and devices that can deliver the nicotine they enjoy without the harm of combustible tobacco are a perfect solution for huge numbers of people. Vaping has been the catalyst for a dramatic decline in smoking prevalence in recent years. It is, therefore, highly unethical for government to then financially punish vapers, especially since public health campaigns like Stoptober actively encourage the use of e-cigarettes.
“Health groups in the U.K. rightly support tobacco harm reduction, as endorsed by the Behavioural Insights Team set up by Government. Public Heath England also back vaping and the Royal College of Physicians urges wide promotion of e-cigarettes to reassure and encourage smokers to use them, as does the government’s own Tobacco Control Plan.”
Jakes said the U.K. was regarded worldwide as a global leader in tobacco harm reduction and the results spoke for themselves. However, she added, public perception of the benefits of vaping had stalled, and applying a tax could only further degrade general misperceptions by implying that vaping was a ‘sin’ and therefore dangerous.
Jakes said that a new tax on vaping products would be unethical, would send entirely the wrong message to smokers, would be at odds with current government policy, and would be a retrograde step for public health. “It is a daft idea and one which we urge the Treasury to abandon immediately,” she said.
The NNA said it strongly condemned a ‘sin tax’ on vaping products and instead urged the Government to be more positive about harm reduction and commit to join with supportive public health bodies in correcting misplaced doubts about successful consumer-driven solutions to smoking.