The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged the UK Government to drop the VAT on e-cigarettes and vaping products to 5% to help more people quit smoking.
The LGA, which represents local councils in England and Wales, has encouraged the Government to drop the VAT from 20% to 5% to bring vape products in line with sales on nicotine gum and patches.
The LGA said that there was growing evidence supporting the use of e-cigarettes as a valuable tool to help more people quit smoking. Current legislation allows a 5% VAT rate to be applied to ‘pharmaceutical products designed to help people stop smoking tobacco’.
They also stated that making vaping products more affordable and treating them equally with other stop-smoking methods would incentivise more people to quit. The LGA has also called for a Smokefree 2030 levy to be imposed on tobacco manufacturers. The revenue raised would be directed to local councils, occupational groups and struggling communities.
As of last year, lung cancer was still one of the leading causes of preventable death in the UK, with around 13% of the UK population smoking.
The UKVIA supported the news, having called for the VAT to be lowered in the past. John Dunne, Director General of the UKVIA, said, “For years this is exactly what we as an Association have been calling for and we back the Local Government Association 100% in urging the Government to cut VAT on vaping products and finally bring them into line with other nicotine replacement therapies. The overwhelming evidence points to the fact that not only is vaping the number one way to help smokers to quit tobacco for good, but that it is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.”
He added, “Our hope is that now the LGA has added its own influential voice to this debate the Government will have the courage to put harm reduction ahead of financial considerations and make this important change as soon as possible, especially if it is serious about getting its own faltering ‘smoke free 2030’ ambitions back on track.”
Lowering the VAT on vape products would be good news for retailers too, who are continuing to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. It would also make devices much cheaper for the consumer, opening the industry up to more smokers and increasing the amount of money saved by switching to vaping.
Whether this will actually happen remains to be seen, but it’s encouraging to see an influential association like the LGA backing vaping as a valid tool for quitting smoking.