German Vapor Tax Proposal a ‘Disaster’

Photo: Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Plans by Germany’s governing coalition to tax vapor products are a disaster for public health and the economy, according to the country’s e-cigarette trade association, VdeH. The move will make vapor products more expensive than combustible cigarettes, which are widely acknowledged to be considerably more harmful to health.

Under the plans, e-liquids will attract a tax of €4 per 10 mL bottle from July 1, 2022. On Jan. 1, 2024, the tax will increase to €8 plus VAT, i.e. €9.52 per 10 mL bottle. Based on an average sales price of about €5 per bottle, this amounts to a tripling of the retail price, says VdeH.

“These tax plans leave you stunned, and one initially suspects a calculation error,” said Michal Dobrajc, executive chairman of the VdeH, in a statement. Such a price increase, he added, could only have been passed with the intention to kill off vaping.

While not opposing e-cigarette taxation as such, the VdeH said fiscal measures should weigh the risks of vaping against those of smoking. Based on what is known about those relative risks, the tax on vapor products should not exceed 5 percent of that on tobacco products, according to the association. The governing coalition’s plans amount to 75 percent of the tobacco tax in Germany.

The VdeH urged the German government to heed the experience of other countries.

A similar tax policy in Italy caused the vapor market to collapse even as tobacco sales increased. Tax collections shriveled and the black market thrived. The Italian government was eventually forced to reduce the tax burden on vapor products by 90 percent. Estonia and Hungary had comparable experiences.

The biggest losers of the governing coalition’s plans, according to the VdeH, are former smokers who successfully quit their habit with the help of e-cigarettes and current smokers who will not attempt to switch under the new tax regime. A police union has already described the tax plans as a “startup for smugglers,” the association noted.