Two bills recently introduced in Congress would substantially increase federal excise taxes on tobacco products, and probably allow the imposition of new federal excise taxes on e-cigarettes.Taxes on e-cigs? Why?
Senate Bill 194 would:
Authorize the Treasury Department to impose federal excise taxes on e-cigarettes (also at a rate equivalent to cigarettes) if FDA deems e-cigarettes to be “tobacco products.”OK, here's the state of play. Pharma smoking cessation products like patches and gum are close to useless, their success rate has been measured at around 1.6%.
We have to consider pharma's problem, though, as former ASH Director Clive Bates does very well. Here, in stupid, risk-terrified, statist detail are the hoops pharma has to jump through to market "medicinal products" which enable smokers to quit.
The explosion in e-cig usage shows conclusively that their efficacy is vastly in excess of anything big pharma could ever hope to achieve. They are bought freely - despite regular scare tactics from tobacco control, in fact - and are not available on prescription like NRT often is. Additionally, this has been without TV advertising until very recently and with no tax-funded campaigns/schemes/programs directing smokers towards them.
Those who aren't irretrievably insane understand this and would like to see light touch regulation rather than the kind of stuff pharma has to go through which - it has to be said - probably renders their products almost useless by government design. Regulating e-cigs along the same lines (as a medical product) - with all that that demands - would make them so expensive that vapers would be back on the baccy before you could say "you silly, silly sods".
As we see above, it looks like pharma have put their thinking caps on and lobbied for their Plan B. If e-cigs are not to be regulated as medicinal devices, they would be classed as "tobacco products". A small tweak in legislation via statutory instrument to make them taxable on the same terms as Silk Cut and the threat is neutralised.
If taxation means that vaping ends up costing the same as smoking tobacco, it would drive their success rate down considerably (though I doubt it would be quite as pathetic as 1.6%). So, despite spending millions of our taxes trying to get us to stop smoking, it looks like the state will destroy e-cigs by regulating them into obscurity or - if that fails - by taxing them out of existence.
It would not, of course, ever occur to the political class to reduce regulations for patches and gum to the same level as that for e-cigs and let the market fight it out.
D'you see why I've always said that it's never been about health? And, when it comes to e-cigs, why politicians are a dangerous disease in a category of their own.