Italian MEP Giancarlo Scottà tabled this extraordinary written question a couple of weeks ago.
I wish to put a question to the Council regarding an issue which has recently been attracting a great deal of interest, but which has never been addressed from the point of view set out below.
I am referring to ‘electronic cigarettes’, devices considered to be ‘nicotine-containing products’ which therefore fall within Article 18 of the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products (COM(2012)0788 — 2012/0366 (COD)).
The consumption of traditional cigarettes provides the Member States with sizeable revenues, as a result of the substantial taxes to which they are subject.
According to a recent report by ANSA (Italian news agency) of 21 April 2013, in the first two months of 2013 alone, Italy’s coffers registered a loss of EUR 132 million, corresponding to a fall in revenue from duty on tobacco of approximately 7.6%. Of course, this shortfall cannot be completely blamed on the increasing use of electronic cigarettes, but it is certainly partly responsible.
In light of the above, can the Council state what action it intends to take to address the differences in tax revenue materialising in State coffers following the proliferation of electronic cigarettes, which currently appear to be free from any form of duty?Now, just pause for a moment and digest that.
He seems very upset that Italians are stopping smoking at such a rate that it is depriving his government of moolah. This, from someone in a profession of which approximately 100% claim that they would be delighted if everyone in the world quit smoking immediately.
What a surprise, then, that he is hinting at taxes being applied to e-cigs for the sole reason that they are stopping people from smoking and, therefore, reducing Italian government receipts.
Looks very much like that is the gist of it, eh?
Now, it's easy to condemn Scottà for his absurdly hypocritical concern but you can bet your house that more politically astute MEPs have had this very same thought bouncing around their heads ever since the e-cig revolution burst on the scene and disturbed their comfy status quo.
It dovetails nicely into the fears of the tobacco control industry too, doesn't it? You see, they're desperately constructing a damage limitation exercise while e-cigs continue to soar in popularity and show up their movement as being laughably ineffective, wedded to corporate pharma interests and - the best bit - not as interested in health as their prior emotional string-pulling has led the world to believe.
We seem, then, to be witnessing an unholy alliance of grasping state representatives weeping as their budgets decline, while simultaneously an unwanted guest - in the form of e-cigs - breezes in and smashes the sound system at tobacco control's carefully crafted mood music party.
Legislators want the money, obsessive anti-smokers want the decades-long ego-stroking to continue (as well as the cash it affords them too, natch). And they all hate e-cigs for fucking it up.
It would neatly explain why Linda McAvan - the most dangerous European alive today - and her junk scientist chums are endorsing utter garbage as fact during internet televised kangaroo 'workshops. We've seen the same behaviour before, and I've written about it, but never has it been displayed so honestly in the public domain.
It also proves that - at the highest level - the ability of e-cigs to aid smoking cessation is accepted no matter how much tobacco control circle their wagons and try to deny it.
If it was truly about health, furrow-browed politicians who harangue us relentlessly to abandon tobacco - and the lucrative industry which has profited by producing ever more imaginative but ineffectual wheezes to bully smokers into submission - would be welcoming the advent of the e-cig and allowing them to be advertised as smoking cessation devices.
Like I said, that would be if it were truly about health which, of course, it has never been.
Nice of Signor Scottà to admit it.
H/T Rursus via e-mail