UK Government Exploring New Vape Taxes To Curb Youth Usage


The UK government is considering implementing a new tax on vapes as part of its strategy to create a “smokefree generation” and reduce youth vaping rates. Recently published government documents indicate plans to explore a vape duty similar to those enacted in other countries.

Potential Vape Tax Could Target Affordability

While ministers view vapes as useful smoking cessation tools for adults, they also warn vapes are not risk-free. A new vape tax could aim to curb their appeal by impacting affordability and availability.

Around 40 nations globally have already implemented taxes on e-cigarettes, including Italy. The UK government is studying these models as it develops its own vape tax proposals.

Wider Plan To Restrict Youth Access To Vaping Products

The potential vape duty forms part of a broader Tobacco and Vapes Bill that will introduce tighter restrictions on vaping to protect children.

The legislation’s goals include phasing out cigarette sales entirely so those aged 14 and under will never legally purchase tobacco. This will involve raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes one year at a time.

The bill will also further limit vape sales and marketing targeting youths, as outlined in the recent King’s Speech. A consultation is gathering input on actions like banning disposable vapes, restricting flavors/branding, enforcing retailer compliance, and tackling online sales.

Balancing Vape Taxes To Avoid Smoking Relapse

While pursuing stricter regulations, the government wants to maintain vapes as an alternative for adult smokers looking to quit.

No. 10 stated taxes must still keep vapes affordable compared to cigarettes. Excessive vape taxes could otherwise risk pushing people back to more harmful smoking habits.

Italy’s vape tax model levies lower rates on vape products than traditional tobacco. This approach could inspire the UK’s balanced vape duty framework.

High Costs Of Smoking Driving New Policies

Curtailing smoking remains the overarching objective driving the government’s vape tax and regulation plans.

Government estimates show smoking costs the UK approximately £17 billion annually, including £10 billion in lost productivity. This dwarfs the £10 billion generated from existing tobacco taxes.

New projections indicate the proposed policies could nearly eliminate smoking among those aged 14-30 by 2040. This age group is central to creating a smokefree generation.

Health Campaigners Push For Tighter Vape Controls

Health groups have continuously called for tighter vape controls to deter youth uptake. With vape experimentation rising, campaigners want measures making vapes less accessible and affordable for children.

Some recommend banning online sales and disposable vapes, restricting flavors/branding, enforcing retailer compliance, and creating fines for underage sales. There are also calls to curb “pocket money prices” on vapes via taxation, pricing policies, or other means.

Government Aims For Balanced Regulation

As the consultation continues, the government is focused on balancing robust vape regulation with ensuring access for adult smokers. The potential new vape tax likely aims to strike this balance.

While specific tax rates and structures remain undecided, the exploration of a vape duty signals the government’s seriousness about preventing youth vaping and protecting public health.

Matthew Ma