E Cigarettes, Regulation and Tax Duty
All smokers are well aware of the risks that take with their health every time they light another cigarette. Smokers are far more likely to contract cancer and indeed to die from smoking related cancers. Tobacco companies are very wealthy and very powerful, giving them a lot of influence with governments around the world.
Electronic Cigarette Smoking and Taxation
If all the UK’s smokers quit cigarettes, the government will lose over £12 billion in annual tobacco duty. The only other substance that is harmful to its users while also raising billions in tax revenue is alcohol. Recently, there have been news stories surrounding the safety of electronic cigarettes.
Cigarettes kill over 100,000 people a year in the UK, but are not made illegal, meanwhile, the government has introduced tough health and safety workplace legislation to reduce workplace fatalities which stand at less than 200 per year.
Where would the government find the £12.1 billion it would lose if smokers all quit tobacco? Are we to assume that the Government doesn’t mind too much about 100,000 deaths annually because they are profitable deaths?
The Regulation of E-Cigarettes
The lost tax revenue from smokers switching to electronic cigarettes will force the exchequer to look at the regulation and taxation of e-liquid. It is likely that regulation will mean the demise of smaller manufacturers making and selling e-cigarettes.
Whatever means smokers use to get their nicotine hit, the government will aim to tax in order to protect their revenues. The only reason for the regulation of e cigarettes will be to enable tax to be levied on e-liquid.
Opponents to E-Cigarettes
E-cigarettes growing popularity look set to affect two existing markets, the tobacco and smoking cessation industries. Nicotine patches and gum don’t give the user the same satisfying hit of nicotine when used.
Tobacco companies can’t really campaign against electronic cigarettes on health grounds because their products are proven to be dangerous.
Even though the tobacco industry don’t want to see e cigarettes take their customers away, it is difficult for them to argue against electronic nicotine delivery devices on healthy based grounds.
It is thought that some cigarette companies are quietly supporting the efforts of the smoking cessation industry to campaign against electronic cigarettes and their growing popularity.
Potential Government Legislation
Introducing a tax on e-cigarettes and e-liquid would no doubt slow the rise in their popularity, keeping more smokers smoking and fewer taking the “healthier” option. The danger for the government is that because it is quite easy to make e-liquid, it would also be quite straightforward for people to avoid paying duty on their e-juice.
Regulated manufacturers of e-liquid will no doubt do all they can to warn us of the dangers of making our own e-liquid. Many smokers are happy to try smoking a cheaper cigarette regardless of where it comes from. The more popular e-cigarettes become, the soon they will face regulation.
If the Government can find a way to tax e-juice then apart from reducing the cost savings, electronic cigarettes are here to stay.
The important point is that if e-liquid can’t be properly regulated and taxed then the devices will in all probability be banned to protect tobacco duty revenues.
E-cigarettes and vaporisers look likely to be regulated by governments worldwide in the next few years especially if they continue to grow in popularity. Taxation of e-liquid would go some way towards mitigating the gradual erosion of tobacco duty revenue.
It is logical to conclude that in the near future the government will be forced by the growing popularity of electronic cigarette devices to regulate them so that they can be taxed.