• May 23, 2024

Tax Would Restrict Harm Reduction to the Rich

 Tax Would Restrict Harm Reduction to the Rich
Photo: Anastasia Kargapolov

The U.K. risks becoming a harm reduction country for the wealthy only, according to the World Vapers Alliance (WVA).

The government, led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is reportedly planning to impose increased taxation on vaping products alongside traditional cigarettes. The proposal has sparked significant concern among U.K. vaping advocates, who argue it threatens to undermine the nation’s progress in harm reduction and smoking cessation efforts.

“It appears that in a bid to generate additional tax revenue, the U.K. government is willing to compromise the health of thousands of smokers,” said WVA Director Michael Landl. “This is yet another step in the wrong direction. By making less harmful alternatives to smoking more expensive, the government is effectively deterring smokers from making the switch. This measure will disproportionately affect the less affluent and exacerbate health inequalities, especially during a cost of living crisis.”

The WVA cites statistical evidence revealing the disproportionate impact of smoking on lower socioeconomic groups. In 2021, the Office for National Statistics highlighted a stark disparity in smoking prevalence related to economic status in the U.K. Unemployed individuals reported a significantly higher smoking rate (25.7 percent) compared to those in paid employment (13.3 percent). Furthermore, in England, a pronounced smoking prevalence was observed in the most deprived neighborhoods (23.8 percent) in contrast to the least deprived (6.8 percent).

Landl also criticized the government’s proposed bans on disposable vapes and generational restrictions on heat-not-burn products.

“Along with the proposed tax increases, these bans will only serve to transform the U.K. from a leader in tobacco harm reduction into a haven for black market activities,” he said.