E-cigarette levy would punish ex-smokers

 

Sir, – Following Sarah Bardon’s article “Government urged to introduce e-cigarette liquid levy” (News, August 8th), we would like to point to the Government’s own figures that state that in Ireland, 19 people per day die from a smoking related disease with each smoking-related hospital admission costing an average of €7,700.

E-cigarettes present an opportunity to improve the health of smokers by displacing their habit for something which presents just a tiny fraction of the harm. However, there is a risk that a tobacco-like tax on these products creates the false view that there is equal harm, and so to smokers, it makes no difference if they continue to smoke or switch to vaping. There is also the risk of current smokers, who would otherwise have switched (especially those on lower incomes), deciding not to do so on cost grounds.

If the Government wishes to reduce the number of people who die from smoking, it should be doing everything in its power to protect the attractiveness of these products to current smokers and also promoting their use through policy change and public awareness campaigns of their relative risk. The UK, and England in particular, has taken a far more pragmatic approach in this regard. Figures by Prof Robert West of University College London, estimate that vaping has created an extra 20,000 ex-smokers there each year, who wouldn’t otherwise have stopped smoking by any other means.

If the Government here continues down the road of applying tax to e-liquids, this may appear to the public as merely a punishment on ex-smokers for lost revenue on cigarettes.

Surely that’s not the intention of Minister for Finance Michael Noonan? – Yours, etc,

GILLIAN GOLDEN,

Irish Vape Vendors

Association.

Ballina,

Co Mayo.