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Taxing e-cigarettes as a tobacco product is in every way an unfathomable and bizarrely ridiculous suggestion by the European Commission and domestic ministers.
Firstly, let’s state the obvious: there’s no tobacco in e-cigarettes – so what are you taxing – nicotine, vapour, or an act that mimics that of smoking?
If taxing nicotine - then is there not an argument that vegetables and drinks, with naturally occurring nicotine: tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines, peppers, cauliflower, and tea should be considered tobacco products.
If taxing vapours then surely aerosols, polishes, bleaches – all producing harmful breathable vapour particles should be considered as tobacco products.
Is it the act or addiction that is being taxed?
The fact that a person puts a device to their mouth and blows out a vapour is not grounds for taxation. I can understand that cigarette smoking has become so vilified that a mental barrier even to the act has gripped society – but this is a matter of education, not taxation.
Taxing addiction would be a baffling concept and, therefore, caffeine based products would fall under ’tobacco taxation’ – coffee and energy drinks are extremely addictive substances.
A Balanced Argument
Currently independent retailers are holding their own in the market place because they give unbiased, fair, honest and realistic advice to people looking to try vaping as a means of cutting out tobacco.As an independent retailer of vaping equipment and e-liquids I would welcome legislation and government policy that ensures only the highest quality products are on the market and sold by expert retailers. Even if we have to pay for that in some form of certification process. It would be a policy worthy of investment.
If taxation was to be imposed and independent retailers forced to close - the only industry able to afford to sell e-cigarettes would be the tobacco industry. How would that play out?
Common Sense Has To Play A Part
Research continues into the vapour produced by e-cigarettes but top quality e-liquid only contains five ingredients: vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, water, food grade flavouring and pharmaceutical grade nicotine.
The e-cigarette industry has been very measured in their health claims regarding e-cigarettes. Other nicotine replacement therapies such as: vaporisers, patches, gums, tablets are all allowed to be hailed as cessation aids. Is it coincidental that these have a very low success rate of getting people to quit smoking so they pose no real threat to the tobacco industry or government revenues from cigarettes?
Medical laboratory tests have already shown that a vapour produced from these ingredients contains no discernable toxins. But even if you choose to ignore scientific fact any idiot can see that these products would produce a vapour 99.9% less toxic than an actual tar fuelled cigarette.
E-cigarettes are succeeding where others have failed because they satisfy all the habitual elements and social pleasures associated with smoking.
Policy Makers Seem To Want To Keep People Smoking
90% of purplebox vapours customers looking to switch to e-cigarettes have done some research before coming in. They are cognisant of the on-going research, aware of the debated issues and, generally, frustrated by media hype and misrepresentation.
Whilst this evidence is anecdotal it cannot be discounted.Our existing customers express their joy and sometimes their surprise at how successful vaping has been for them in quitting tobacco altogether. They feel healthier, they look healthier – they have a ‘pep in their step’.
I would urge policy makers to speak to all e-cigarette stakeholders: retailers, medical professionals and users to gather a “bigger picture” view of the industry and the benefits it is bringing to people’s lives before making unresearched broad brush stroke policies.
E-cigarettes may put more money in people’s pockets and that can only be a good thing for the economy in general. But more importantly, they may just save billions of lives and save the health services billions of Euro.
You do the math.
(all opinions are those of purplebox vapours)