• April 21, 2024

Finland: Smoke-Free Tax Plans Draw Fire

 Finland: Smoke-Free Tax Plans Draw Fire
Photo: Marko Hannula

The Finnish government’s recent proposal to increase taxes on nicotine pouches and vape liquids has drawn criticism from the World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA). The current plan would increase the price of one nicotine pouch box by approximately €2.50 ($2.74).

This move, which aims to bring smokeless nicotine products under tobacco taxation, is a significant step backwards in harm reduction efforts, according to the consumer group.

“Finland’s plan to increase taxes on less harmful nicotine alternatives is deeply concerning. Not only does this reduce the price differential between deadly cigarettes and safer alternatives, but it also directly undermines public health goals. By making products like nicotine pouches and vape liquids more expensive, we risk discouraging smokers from switching to these less harmful alternatives,” said WVA Director Michael Landl in a statement.

The proposal, which seeks to amend the law on tobacco taxation, will encompass smoke-free nicotine products, including nicotine pouches and vape liquids. The WVA warns that such tax increases will disproportionately impact low-income groups, who statistically exhibit higher smoking rates.

“Imposing higher taxes on harm reduction products hits the most vulnerable groups the hardest. These are the same groups with the highest smoking rates. Instead of providing them with affordable alternatives to quit smoking, the government is pushing them back to the more harmful habit. This move by the Finnish government is a step in the wrong direction that ignores public health benefits and deepens social inequalities,” said Landl.

The WVA suggested that the Finnish lawmakers don’t need to look far for successful examples of harm reduction. Sweden is on track to become the first smoke-free country because of its progressive harm reduction policies. Earlier this year, Sweden announced a program of lowering tax on snus and nicotine pouches while significantly raising cigarette tax.