The United Kingdom is contemplating the introduction of a new tax on vaping liquids, amounting to an additional £1.40 per week for vapers. The proposal, attributed to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, aims to deter young people from taking up e-cigarettes. The move comes in response to the successful implementation of similar levies in European countries, notably Germany and Italy, where taxes on vaping liquids have been employed to discourage underage usage.
European Precedent:Countries such as Germany and Italy have already established taxes on vaping products. In Germany, a £1.40 tax is applied to 10ml bottles of e-liquid, with plans to double this amount to £2.80 by 2026. Italy, being a pioneer in taxing e-cigarette fluid since 2014, imposes a £1.10 levy on 10ml bottles. The UK government appears to be drawing inspiration from these models to create a financial barrier to underage vaping.
Affordability as a Deterrent:
Government sources suggest that there is a compelling case to address the affordability of vaping products, viewing it as a crucial element in discouraging youngsters from taking up the habit. The intent is to strike a balance: encouraging adult smokers to switch to vaping, which is currently three times cheaper than smoking, while dissuading non-smokers, particularly children, from adopting the vaping trend.
Potential Savings and Risks:
Research indicates that the average smoker in England could save approximately £670 per year by switching to vaping. However, concerns have been raised about the potential risks associated with increasing the cost of vaping, as this could inadvertently drive some youth towards traditional smoking. Striking a balance between affordability and discouraging youth initiation remains a key challenge for policymakers.
Government Consultation on Youth Vaping:
Ministers are currently engaged in a public consultation addressing various aspects of youth vaping, including proposals to restrict flavors and packaging believed to be appealing to children. The potential ban on disposable vapes, purchasable with pocket money, is also under consideration. This comprehensive consultation is set to conclude soon, with the government expressing its commitment to swift implementation of effective measures.
Tobacco Age Increase:
In tandem with these vaping-related initiatives, the government is contemplating an annual increase in the legal age for purchasing cigarettes. The objective is to prevent anyone aged 14 or younger from ever starting smoking. This multifaceted approach underscores the government's commitment to promoting public health and reducing the prevalence of tobacco-related habits among the youth.
Health Secretary's Perspective:
Health Secretary Steve Barclay has acknowledged the urgency of cracking down on the sale of vapes to children. Emphasizing concerns about the marketing tactics that often make vaping products resemble sweets, Barclay indicates that a range of measures, including taxation, is under consideration to address the rising use of vapes among young people.
As the UK explores the possibility of implementing a £1.40-per-week tax on vaping, the government seeks inspiration from successful European models to deter youth initiation. Striking a balance between affordability for adult smokers and dissuading youth from taking up vaping presents a nuanced challenge. The ongoing public consultation and proposed measures reflect a comprehensive effort to address the multifaceted issue of youth vaping and promote a healthier future for the nation.