Plans to slap a tax on vaping products across the UK has been compared with “taxing bicycles to pay for obesity”
Smoking remains one of the most significant public health challenges in the world, as it is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease. With that being the case, you would think public health agencies would be doing all they can to support cessation efforts, especially with practical aids. These efforts got a massive boost with the advent and growth of vaporizers. Since they first grew widely popular, vaping has often been referenced by former smokers as a vital key to helping them end their tobacco dependence.
Unfortunately, many legislators have not held a favorable view of vaping and as such moved to regulate and tax the harm reduction devices. Countries like Australia have taken very strict stances on vaping, banning them outright except in very special cases, while many others such as the US have opted for a cautious, but open approach. Sadly, it seems now defacto world leader in vaping rights, the UK, is thinking about placing taxes on the harm reduction tools as well.
UK’s Potential Vaping Tax
The UK has long been the world leader in vaping rights. Being at the forefront of everything from research to regulation, the UK has long supported e-cigarettes for their harm reduction and smoking cessation value. In fact, they included vaping for the first time as part of their annual month-long smoking cessation campaign, Stoptober. Despite this, the treasury is currently mulling over a “sin tax” on e-cigarettes. While the figure is said only to be around 5%, which is relatively low compared to elsewhere, advocates across the UK still believe this would be a massive mistake.
The UK is mulling over the tax as a way to help pay for the announced £20 billion going to National Health Service (NHS) over the next five years to improve the country’s healthcare. Chris Snowdon, who works for the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank, summed up the logic of the vaping tax quite nicely when he said taxing vaping for health is like “taxing bicycles to pay for obesity.” However, the legislators seem more enticed by the prospect of an extra £40 million every year for the budget than protecting vapers. According to Dan Marchant, who’s on the board for the UK vaping Industry Association, “Vaping is a huge public health opportunity which has already helped three million smokers quit or reduce smoking and saved the NHS billions of pounds according to the Government’s own research.”
The Research On Vaping
It’s all the more surprising that the UK is considering this vaping tax given that it was the UK’s own Public Health England, part of the NHS, that first reported back in 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. But that isn’t the only piece of evidence supporting the extreme harm reduction value of e-cigarettes. Last fall researchers published a study in the Journal of Aerosol Science that concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is around 57,000 times higher than a demographically similar vaper.
But that’s just the research on vaping’s harm reduction value. We also have some large scale reports that indicate vaping may also serve as one of the best smoking cessation tools around. A study published out of the University of Louisville last fall tested the success rate of many different smoking cessation methods, from cold turkey all the way through prescription drugs. After collecting all their data, the team concluded that vaping was more likely to lead to a successful quit attempt than any other method, including the prescription aids.
The biggest lesson we should all be taking from this latest development is that if an unjustified vaping tax can happen in the UK, then it is liable to occur anywhere. In fact, the proposed UK vaping tax is very benign compared with the ridiculous 70% and higher vaping taxes proposed in states across the US. With this being the case, it makes it even more critical that we work to support vaping for all of its harm reduction and smoking cessation benefits. These unfair taxes are ultimately doing little more than pushing vapers, who had successfully quit smoking, back into a life of smoking.
If we genuinely wish to live in a world in which the smoking epidemic has been stopped once and for all, we have to make a switch to vaping easier, not more difficult. After all, we know that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, as well as being the best smoking cessation tool we have. So we must help spread these facts to combat the misinformation.
Are you surprised that the UK of all places in considering a vaping tax? Do you think it’s fair for vaping to be slightly taxed, or is this hurting cessation efforts? What’s the best way to spread research to the general population? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.
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