Are there Double Standards around Vaping Legislation?
Despite being twice as effective as other nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products on the market, VAT on e-cigarettes is 20% whereas existing legislation allows a 5% rate for nicotine gum and patches.
Local Government Association (LGA) has recognised the effectiveness of vaping products in helping people to quit smoking and has urged the government to reduce the VAT to match its NRT product counterparts.
The LGA has recognised the growing evidence suggesting that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking and have acknowledged that making vaping products more affordable and giving them equal treatment with other NRT methods would incentivise more people to kick the habit.
The stigma around vaping has been present since the products were brought to market and leading health organisations such as Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS have been debunking misconceptions for years now, such as it being as harmful as smoking, the addictiveness of NRT products and the effectiveness of them as quitting aids.
Why is this Important?
- Smoking-related illnesses such as lung cancer are still recognised as one of the leading causes of preventable death in the UK and around 13% of the UK were recorded as smokers last year.
- Over 77,000 people die in England alone from smoking, more than obesity, alcohol and illegal drugs put together.
- For every person who dies from smoking, 30x as many live with a serious smoking-related illness.
- Ending smoking will increase our productivity and economic prosperity. Smoking costs society an estimated £12.5 billion a year and smoking drive more than a million people into poverty a year, with prices of cigarettes only going up.
- We could also benefit from a happier society as those who quit are more likely to feel positive about life, with reductions in depression, anxiety and stress.
Smokers want and need support. Making smoking history will make us healthier, wealthier and happier. Public Health England has found that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. As vaping advocate Elaine Keller says, “why is your concern about my addiction to nicotine more important than my concern about getting lung cancer?”
Dr Michael Siegel from Boston University compares e-cigarettes to lifeboats. He says “Electronic cigarettes are a potential lifeboat. No, they have not been tested and approved by the FDA. But if you were in a sinking ship, would you remain in the ship because the lifeboats had not been FDA tested and approved?”
David Fothergill, the chairman of LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board says “There is increasing evidence that e-cigarettes, along with other dedicated support, act as an important gateway to help people to stop smoking, which reduces serious illness and death as well as other pressures on health and care services.”
Although vaping isn’t 100% safe, neither are other NRT products. However, both are lifesavers and both have a positive impact on society. If both are in the same (life) boat, why are there inconsistencies in legislation and VAT rates? Why allow this stigma to carry on when lives are at stake?