EU proposes to increase tax on e-cigarettes; Groups say it could be detrimental to public health

By Staff Writer | Mar 02, 2016 10:26 PM EST

Members of the European Union have unanimously agreed to prepare a legislative proposal to increase the minimum excise duty on e-cigarettes to "the highest common denominator," threatening a dramatic price hike for the device across Europe.

The European Commission has been tasked to draft the proposal to be presented by 2017. A proposal will be tabled after necessary preliminary steps are taken such as impact studies, analyses and public consultations. The proposed legislation seeks to straighten out inconsistencies in the marketing rules between tobacco and vaping devices.

"There is an argument that it would be quite good to do something like minimum levels of excise duty for e-cigarettes. Member states could then decide whether to raise them higher or not," an EU official said, via The Guardian. "At present they don't fall under excise duties like cigarettes, so maybe we would set a minimum threshold."

Should e-cigarettes be taxed the same way as tobacco, prices for the former would increase from £23 to nearly £54.

The proposal is not viewed favorably by many vape groups who see e-cigarettes as a tool that helps people quit smoking and lead healthier lifestyles.

According to The Independent, almost 900,000 Britton smokers have switched to e-cigarettes to break the habit in 2014. A research conducted by the University College London shows that out of 8.46 adult smokers in England, around 37 percent of them attempted to quit in 2014 with the help of e-cigarette as an alternative. Furthermore, the study indicates the success of quitting is raised by up to 50 percent when vaping is resorted to.

Health charity ASH warned that the EU proposal could be pose dangers to public health, Daily Mail noted. Deborah Arnott of ASH said smokers would be discouraged from switching to e-cigarettes if higher taxes were imposed.

With the growing trend in using e-cigarettes regulations are also being imposed in the United States. The U.S. Department of Transportation has a finalize a rule that bans electronic cigarettes in all commercial finals, both local and international. The regulation aims to protect airline passengers from "unwanted exposure to aerosol fumes."

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