Plans being considered by the EU to slap excise duty on vaping products have been condemned by West Midlands UKIP MEP James Carver as “bad for public health”.
It is feared the proposed tax of between 20 and 50 per cent on all vaping products, such as e-cigarettes, will send some vapers back to smoking and discourage smokers from making the switch.
Kidderminster-based Mr Carver said: “Vaping has contributed to record low levels of smoking in the UK and has significantly reduced smoking rates in other EU member states. Such products have helped an estimated 6.1 million smokers across the EU to quit the habit for good.
“Despite this, according to the Commission’s own figures, 26 per cent of the EU population and 25 per cent of young Europeans aged 15-24 still smoke. This results in nearly 700,000 deaths every year and policy makers at all levels should be focussed on reducing this figure.
“If this proposal is passed it will create a block to more people stopping smoking as the monetary incentive to switching to e-cigarettes and the like will be lost.
“The EU must not be allowed to put obstacles in the way of improving public health and this is a very good example of why Britain needs to free itself from its grasp as soon as possible.”
Mr Carver added that the proposal, which is being fought by the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA), also contravened the EU’s own principle of non-discrimination arguing that as vape products are not tobacco products they should not be subjected to a tobacco-style taxation regime.
Richard Hyslop, chief executive of the IBVTA, said he was delighted to have the backing of Mr Carver in the fight against the imposition of the tax.
He said: “We are asking politicians and officials when negotiating our withdrawal from the EU and looking for compromise and deals, please not to sign up to this excise regime.”
Mr Hyslop vowed that IBVTA would fight against vaping products being treated the same as tobacco products, even if the UK resisted signing up, because many of its members trade across Europe.
He added: “If proposals for additional taxation are withdrawn, then vaping will continue to flourish and fulfil its potential in providing a viable and significantly less harmful alternative to tobacco products. “However, if they do not then smokers will not make the switch and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will have been missed.”
Mr Hyslop also warned that the high costs of implementing an excise duty regime on small businesses and a fledgling industry could force his members out of businesses and encourage a form of black market.
The European Commission is expected to decide whether to include vaping products in the tobacco excise directive later this year.