THE UK is to be hit with a vape tax to raise an extra £40million for the country’s ailing National Health Service.
According to government insiders, e-cigarettes are to be added to the so-called list of “sin taxes”, which are set for increases in this Fall’s budget.
The punitive measure is set to hit the UK’s 2.9million vapers, half of which claim they took up the recreational activity to help quit their deadly habit.
The news comes despite the NHS itself encouraging e-cigarettes as a way of giving up smoking with vaping allowed in many of its hospitals.
One Whitehall insider told Britain’s The Sun newspaper: “Vapers are likely to be hit as they are not taxed at all.”
Users typically spend around £275 a year on vaping fluid. A five per cent tax would cost them £13.75 a year and raise almost £40million.
But last night Chris Snowdon, of think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said a vaping tax would harm the nation’s health.
He said: “The UK’s liberal approach to vaping has become a model for the rest of the world.”
Thirteen organisations, including Public Health England and Cancer Research UK, released a joint statement in 2015 on vaping, reporting that it was at least 95 percent less harmful to health than cigarettes.
The European Commission, meanwhile, is currently holding a public consultation into the taxation of tobacco and vaping products which ends in September.
According to the IEA, Britain’s nine million smokers pay £9.5billion a year in duty on tobacco products — and by dying younger they save the state £9.8billion in pension, healthcare and other benefit payments.
According to the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, the tax, both excise duty and VAT, raised through the sale of tobacco products continues to be a major source of revenue for the Government, contributing around £12billion annually.
On a typical pack of 20 cigarettes the total tax burden of £6.28 accounts for 82 percent of the recommended retail price (RRP) of £8.50.
And on some of the least expensive brands the total tax burden accounts for up to 90 percent of the RRP.
The Government’s policy of high-level taxation has resulted in taxes on tobacco products in the UK being among the highest in the world and vaping supporters are now concerned e-cigarettes are set to go down a similar route.