Italians Protest “Supertax” on Vaping

Recently, many Italians have taken to the streets to defend their right to affordable vaping and e-cigarette products. Source reports from Italy — Letrera 43 — Il Secolo XIX

What’s behind a lot of this activity is something referred to as a European ‘supertax’ that charges Italian vaping and e-cigarette customers the equivalent of about five euros per couple of ounces of vaping fluid material.

This tax, set by Italy’s Agency of Customs and Monopolies, assesses 1 mL of vaping fluid to about five cigarettes. This is very controversial comparison has been called ‘unconstitutional ‘by advocates of vaping and e-cigarette industries who say that these types of products have helped many people to quit smoking or cut back in their consumption of traditional tobacco products.

A Big Market

Just a few years ago, Italy was only behind the United States in vaping and e-cigarette sales. Thousands of stores sold these products to many thousands of customers. By some estimates, though, today’s industry is only about a quarter of the size that it once was, with about half the customers or around 2% of the adult population. However, with just about half a million vaping and e-cigarette users in recent years, there are still a lot of Italians very angry about efforts to regulate these products in ways that seem similar to regulation for traditional tobacco.

Shutting Down Shops

There’s also the argument that excessive regulation of vaping and e-cigarette products has led to the loss of thousands of jobs, as many of these small shops or kiosks are shut down, or the wares of some tobacconists or other shops are reduced. At the heart of the issue is whether these products should be heavily taxed in the same way that traditional tobacco products are taxed in various countries, including America. The issue of a vice tax has been popular, but for vaping and e-cigarette products, there’s that difficult equation of how many people have been able to actually improve their health by weaning themselves off of cigarettes in traditional tobacco. These products aren’t just “vices,” in a different context, they can be lifesavers, and that needs to be taken into account.

In general, vaping and e-cigarette products function as a critical part of the smoking cessation industry, an industry helping brighten futures, reduce the benefits costs of businesses, and relieve a bit of pressure on national healthcare systems straining under the weight of chronic diseases caused by excessive tobacco use. Corporate wellness programs, a concerted campaign of anti-tobacco advertisements, and a spate of laws limiting smoking in public — all of these things have led to societies where tobacco use is less endemic, but vaping and e-cigarette products have also helped by offering the hardcore smokers a way to change their habits without quitting cold turkey, which is exceedingly difficult because of the physical and psychological symptoms of addiction. Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic have to weigh taxes and other decisions seriously in light of the potential of vaping and e-cigarette to help individuals conquer certain kinds of health risks.