EU Finance Ministers Ask Brussels To Tax Vapers Like Smokers

(Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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A collection of European finance ministers agreed Tuesday e-cigarettes should be saddled with higher taxes.

Currently, the vast majority of European Union countries do not impose the excise taxes usually reserved for tobacco on e-cigarettes.

During meetings in Brussels, EU finance ministers formally asked the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, to consider imposing excise taxes on e-cigarettes on par with those levied on tobacco by 2017.

There are millions of vapers across Europe, with a 2012 poll showing 20 percent of the continent’s 500 million inhabitants had tried an e-cigarette. But EU vapers shouldn’t worry about suffering the same high taxes as smokers just yet.

“It would be extremely unlikely that we would propose to apply the same taxation levels on e-cigarettes as those applied to cigarettes,” said a spokeswoman for the commission.

The proposal for increasing e-cigarette taxes was first reported March 1, with European ambassadors asking the European Commission to draft an “appropriate legislative proposal.”

“In order to facilitate an appropriate, equal taxation treatment of new products within the internal market and remove potential inconsistencies and legal uncertainty,” the ministers said in a document published Feb. 26.
But the EU’s agenda for raising taxes on e-cigarettes is not limited to avoiding legal gray areas. There “needs to be practical and foresighted, and strike the right balance between the revenue, expenses of tax administration and public health objectives,” according to the draft document.

The document argued there should be some “other specifically designed tax” for nicotine delivery systems that use steam instead of smoke. It adds a new tax regime should be “intensified” if “the market share of such products show a tendency to increase.”

The EU requires all member states impose an excise tax of 57 percent on tobacco products. Most states just impose a 20 percent Value Added Tax on e-cigarettes, according to EUobserver.

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