Government urged to cut VAT on vaping products to 5%
The Local Government Association (LGA) are putting pressure on the government to reduce VAT on vaping products.
VAT on e-cigarettes should be reduced from 20% to 5% which will bring them in line with sales on nicotine gum and patches, the LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, said.
Current legislation allows a 5% rate to be applied to “pharmaceutical products designed to help people stop smoking tobacco”.
The LGA said there is growing evidence to suggest that using e-cigarettes could help people quit smoking. It is estimated that in 2017, more than 50,000 smokers in the UK quit with the aid of a vaping product, whilst PHE recently reported that using a vaping product as part of a quit attempt in local stop smoking services had some of the highest quit success rates – between 59.7% and 74% in 2019 and 2020.
The LGA said making legal vaping products more affordable and treating them equally with other stop-smoking methods would encourage more people to kick the habit. As well as reducing VAT on e-cigarettes, councils are calling on the government to impose a Smokefree 2030 levy on tobacco manufacturers, with the revenue directed to the areas, occupational groups and communities where it was most needed. In October 2021, the Health and Social Care Secretary, Savid Javid, revealed his plans to revolutionise vaping in a bid to 'help the poor live longer'. Of the matter, Javid stated:
"Opening the door to a licensed e-cigarette prescribed on the NHS has the potential to tackle the stark disparities in smoking rates across the country, helping people stop smoking wherever they live and whatever their background." Javid also gave a nod to e-cigarettes being prescribed under the NHS.
Last year, around 13% of the UK population were cigarette smokers; smoking-related illness such as lung cancer continue to be one of the leading causes of preventable death in the UK. In 2019 to 2020, there were an estimated 506,100 smoking-related admissions to hospital in England, equating to almost 1,400 each day. One in 4 patients in a hospital bed is a smoker. Smokers also see their GP 35% more than non-smokers.
The LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board chairman David Fothergill said: “Council public health teams work hard to help reduce smoking rates in their areas, alongside local charities and community groups, and it is testament to their efforts that smoking rates continue to fall.
“There is increasing evidence that e-cigarettes, along with other dedicated support, act as an important gateway to help people to stop smoking, which reduces serious illness and death as well as other pressures on health and care services.
“Every pound invested by government in council-run services such as public health helps to relieve pressure on other services like the NHS, criminal justice and welfare. Councils can help the Government to achieve its ambition of eliminating smoking in England by 2030, through their tobacco control and other public health and support services, but need certainty over their long-term funding.”