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November 29, 2022
3 min to read

European Commission Will Propose an EU-Wide Minimum Vape Tax

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Jim McDonald

The European Commission plans to impose a minimum excise tax on vaping products for all European Union member states. The new tax would be part of the revised Tobacco Excise Directive (TED), which could also include a doubling of the minimum tax on cigarettes and the first tax on heated tobacco products.

The news was first reported by the Financial Times, based on the contents of a draft European Commission (EC) report. The paper reported that, if the suggested tax scheme were adopted, the minimum EU tax on cigarettes would double from €1.80 to €3.60 per pack, and the EU would impose a minimum wholesale duty of 55 percent on heated tobacco products.

There were no substantial details on the proposed vape tax. The paper reported that vaping products will be taxed based on nicotine strength, with “stronger” products subject to a wholesale duty of 40 percent and “lower-strength vapes” taxed at 20 percent. It did not explain what “stronger” meant, and the proposal is especially confusing since the EU limits nicotine strength in vapes to 2 percent (20 mg/mL).

Final details of the EC proposal are set to be announced in December. To be adopted, the levy must first be approved by all EU member states. Unlike the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), which sets harmonized standards for vaping and tobacco products sold in the EU, the TED is not voted into law by a majority of the European Parliament. Instead it can only be adopted by unanimous approval of the Council of the EU, a body that includes a minister from each member state.

"Any vape tax imposed would be a floor, not a ceiling. In other words, individual EU member states would be free to impose a higher tax, but not a lower one."

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As Vaping360 reported in 2020, there are ways such a tax scheme could fall apart during Council negotiations—especially if one large and influential country (France, for example) opposed the vape tax. But any country’s opposition could derail the tax plan.

Any vape tax imposed would be a floor, not a ceiling. In other words, individual EU member states would be free to impose a higher tax, but not a lower one. More than half of the 27 EU member countries currently have some kind of vape tax on the books. The largest and richest EU member, Germany, is also the most recent to approve a tax on vaping products. Its €0.16-per-milliliter levy (which increases progressively to €0.32 in 2026) took effect in July 2022.

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported that the European Commission also proposed a minimum tax on Swedish snus, the pasteurized oral tobacco credited with nearly eliminating regular smoking by Swedish men. The report created a brief outcry in Sweden before the EC denied it intends to force Sweden to tax snus, which is illegal in all EU countries except Sweden.

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Jim McDonald

Vaping since: 13 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: RY4-style tobaccos, fruits

Expertise in: Political and legal challenges, tobacco control haters, moral panics

Jim McDonald

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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