The European Union is exploring the possibility of imposing a tax on e-cigarette and vape pen products across all member states. The European Commission’s taxation policy arm, the Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD), has opened a consultation that EU citizens can respond to. It’s a brief process.
Participation in the consultation is being organized and encouraged by 16 European consumer and trade vaping organizations, all of whom are also supporting a petition titled “Act now to stop the EU vape tax,” calling on authorities to reject any plan that protects combustible cigarettes by taxing non-combustible nicotine products like vapes that help smokers quit.
The petition has been signed by more than 12,000 people so far — although the petition itself doesn’t mean much. The organizers are hoping vapers will share the petition (which also has links to the consultation in several languages) on social media, and encourage other vapers and their friends and families to get involved and complete the consultation.
As we reported in January, the European Commission may attempt to institute an EU-wide tax in 2019 when the terms of the tobacco excise directive are re-evaluated. Meanwhile, nine EU member states have some form of vape tax already: Croatia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, and Slovenia.
The EU tax directorate DG TAXUD also commissioned an Italian firm to survey stakeholders on a potential vapor product tax. Several European vape associations were approached and asked to solicit responses from their members. French consumer group SOVAPE refused to participate.
SOVAPE president Nathalie Dunand instead sent the consulting firm a strongly worded letter questioning the purpose of instituting a tax on low-risk replacement products for cigarettes. Dunand noted that the countries that have taxed vapes have not seen smoking rates decline as they have in other EU states. She also questioned the effect a tax might have on low-income EU citizens.
“The population and the economy of the European Union suffer from diseases, sometimes heavily incapacitating, linked to smoking,” wrote Dunand [via Google Translate]. “They also suffer from a set of psychological disorders, more or less pronounced, some of which can be relieved by nicotine consumption. To begin with the pleasure and the relaxation that provide its consumption. These are aspects that we consider essential to rigorously evaluate this file. Their absence surprises us.”