Tobacco consumption is the most significant cause of premature death in the EU and one that disproportionally affects our poorest and most disadvantaged citizens. Not only are rates of tobacco consumption higher amongst the lowest socio-economic groups, they suffer more from its effects.
EuroHealthNet has summarised it’s knowledge and position on tobacco taxation in a response to a European Commission’s consultation in August 2018. The full response can be found below.
Although the rate of tobacco use has declined, it has not declined enough nor equally amongst all groups. Much more remains to be done. Tobacco taxation is a very cost-effective public health prevention as revenues increase and smoking rates fall.
The use of novel tobacco products looks set to grow. National initiatives to research and regulate e-cigarettes and packaging are encouraging, but while the long – term effects of e-cigarette use remain unknown, caution should prevail. Clinician-led use of novel products can have a place in tobacco cessation services, along with increased health literacy and health education as part of wider health promotion approach. However, unregulated and fully open markets can perpetuate the sale of harmful products, exploiting the vulnerability and inequalities experienced by certain groups
The EuroHealthNet partnership strongly supports the continued increase of excise duties and taxation on traditional tobacco products and the consistent excise treatment of e-cigarettes as an equivalent product to tobacco
In response to the consultation response, EuroHealthNet expresses:
- Strong support for the further increase of tobacco taxes and the EU wide harmonisation of fiscal policy with regard to e-cigarettes, to bring their treatment into line with that of conventional tobacco products
- Strong support for effective and comprehensive regulation at European level, including agreement on a common fiscal definition and the establishment of distinct category for e-cigarettes in EU excise legislation
- Strong support for the adoption of an intelligent and contextual approach to regulation to mitigate the risk of e-cigarettes becoming a ‘gateway’ product to tobacco, particularly amongst those who are young and/or vulnerable
- A cautious endorsement for the use of e-cigarettes as one element of properly planned and supervised smoking cessation programmes.