The UK government is considering implementing a new tax on vaping products as part of a broader push towards creating a “smoke-free generation” of young people in the country. The potential vape tax would be introduced alongside stricter regulations on both cigarettes and e-cigarettes aimed at deterring youth uptake.
Documents published alongside last week’s Queen’s Speech revealed plans for an 8-week public consultation on future smoking and vaping policy. This review is expected to explore options for levying a tax on vapes, as around 40 other countries have already implemented.
Downing Street sources stressed the need to maintain higher taxes on traditional tobacco cigarettes compared to vape products, which officials still regard as useful alternatives for adult smokers looking to quit. However, rising vaping rates among UK youth have increased pressure for tighter regulations.
The forthcoming tobacco and vapes bill aims to introduce several key measures, including:
- Stricter rules on vape product advertising and sales practices to better protect children
- A gradual phase-out of legal cigarette sales over time, so they can eventually never be sold to kids under 14
- Potential new taxes on vapes to discourage youth uptake while still pricing them below traditional cigarettes
Government data shows smoking currently costs the UK approximately £17 billion per year when factoring healthcare costs and lost productivity from ill health. However, treasury figures indicate the government still nets over £10 billion annually in tax revenue from tobacco sales.
Imposing the first-ever taxes on vaping products represents one of the only major surprise proposals in last week’s Queen’s Speech, as most policy plans seemed designed to draw political battle lines heading into the next general election.
Public health organizations have largely welcomed the move to deter youth vaping while still recognizing vapes as less harmful than smoking for adult users trying to quit cigarettes. Ongoing consultation and debate in Parliament will likely finalize the vape tax structure, level, and implementation timeline if legislatively approved.
Source: The Guardian