Experts slam EU’s ‘war on vaping’ and urge UK government to reduce tax

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A move to reduce VAT on vapes and other smoking alternatives to 5 percent could save the NHS upwards of £2.4 billion, experts have said. Neil McLaren, CEO of has slammed Brussels’ decision to tax novel tobacco products as part of a wider push to cut smoking rates. 

In his critique, the CEO said the UK should use its post-Brexit freedoms to do the opposite of what the EU have done in order to see benefits such as ultimately releasing burdens on the NHS. 

A draft European Commission document shows that excise duty on cigarettes would increase from €1.80 to €3.60 per pack of 20.

This would also raise prices in eastern European nations where packs can sell for under €3.

The update to the 2011 EU tobacco taxation directive will bring the taxation of novel products, such as vapes into line with cigarettes. 

It comes as worldwide policymakers worldwide take an increasingly dim view of the products’ popularity among young people.

Mr Mclaren, speaking to about how the UK government should respond, said: “

“This move from Brussels is disappointing but not surprising, given the European Commission’s war on vaping.

“The UK Government should use the freedoms it gained after Brexit and do the opposite of what the EU in their latest tax move against vaping.”


“Instead they should be looking at reducing VAT on vapes to 5%, in line with other nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine patches and gum.

“A move like this could save the NHS the £2.4 billion it spends each year treating smoking related diseases.”

Other experts have warned that doubling the cost of products which help keep people away from smoking is a counterproductive measure. 

Chief Strategy Officer and Brussels Public Affairs leader Peter Beckett offered his own insights into the matter.

He said: “Vapers in the UK thinking about a holiday to Europe will need to stock up in the future, or they might be hit with a nasty surprise.

Doubling the cost of a product that helps millions of former smokers stay away from cigarettes is not a wise move from Brussels.

“Public Health England has maintained for years that vaping is around 95% less harmful than smoking.

With UK tax rises for cigarettes probably coming in Spring, we urge the government not to give into the temptation to hit British vapers with more taxes, as the EU is planning”.

As a result of the planned directive, stronger vaping products would have an excise duty of at least 40 per cent applied to them, while lower-strength vapes would face a 20 percent duty.

Heated tobacco products will also face a 55 percent duty, or a tax rate of €91 per 1,000 items sold.

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