Should there be a tax on e-cigarettes in Ireland?

We’ve talked before about how vaping is roughly 80% cheaper than smoking (factors vary a little depending on individual use) and as you might have guessed, one of the main reasons is tax.

As the Irish Independent reported; “Irish people puffed their way through 5.4 billion cigarettes in 2011, making smoking a lucrative habit for the Government“.

“Figures from the Revenue Commissioners show that almost 80% of the price of a €9.30 packet of cigarettes goes to the State through VAT and excise duty“.

“Ireland has one of the highest tax takes on cigarettes in Europe, surpassed only by the U.K. and Norway.”

E-Cigarettes in Ireland: The tax debate

Vaping, on the other hand, is subject only to standard VAT charges, one of the reasons why it’s significantly cheaper than traditional smoking. And we’re fortunate to be living in Ireland, as vaping in other countries has become subject to some harsh tax laws and regulations in recent months.

America is approaching vaping state-by-state. As The Washington Post reports, Washington DC is proposing a tax on vaping that could triple the cost for the consumer, and North Carolina and Minnesota have laws taxing vaping products (though thankfully in both states the rates are still lower than taxes on tobacco items).  David Brunori for Forbes, believes that taxing e-cigarettes is crazy and that it is just a money making scheme.

Taxing e-cigarettes is a money grab. If people use e-cigarettes instead of real cigarettes, the state loses money.

California is considering treating vaping like traditional tobacco products, a move described by many as misguided. Quote the Mercury News: “Despite the health officer’s false claims, there is ample evidence that vaping helps smokers quit and is far less hazardous than smoking,” Gregory Conley, president of the e-cigarette advocacy group American Vaping Association. “Smokers deserve truthful and accurate information about the relative risks of different nicotine products, not hype and conjecture based on cherry-picked reports.”

Closer to home, France is considering banning vaping in public places, but in Ireland, vaping cafes are emerging on both sides of the border.

E-Cigarettes in Ireland: Taxation and Regulation

Vaping is a more sociable, cheaper and effective replacement for traditional smoking, so we’re lucky to live in Ireland. While taxation and regulation has stifled the industry in other countries, making it harder for smokers to quit, we have the freedom (both financially and legally) to choose to vape.

We should also be grateful that numerous Irish journalists have taken up the cause. Matt Cooper’s column in The Irish Examiner outlines a number of arguments in favour of vaping and against excessive regulation. “Are [vaping’s] effects anywhere as risky or bad as what tobacco do?” he asks. “If electronic cigarettes were to become a socially acceptable norm, would it not follow that lung cancer and emphysema rates would fall sharply? What about all the medical experts who have made the seemingly reasonable point that millions of lives could be saved if all smokers were to use e-cigarettes instead of normal cigarettes?”

But perhaps the most effective argument Cooper makes is a quote from author Lionel Shriver on the subject: “This newfangled nicotine delivery system is dead cool. The gently warm vapour ingeniously replicates the reflective pause of a real fag, the same quiet little buzz. But it doesn’t stink up your breath, cover surfaces with ash, turn the air acrid, stain your fingers, brown your teeth, reduce bone mass of the jaw, promote gum disease, or — wait for the drum roll — cause cancer. Nor does an e-cig give anyone in your vicinity cancer.”

Join the debate, let us know what you think about the topic of tax and e-cigarettes in Ireland and worldwide.

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