UK mulls new tax on vaping

UK mulls new tax on vaping
Опубликовано: Friday, 24 February 2023 15:59

Move comes amid surging use by children — but could prompt a clash with Scotland.

LONDON — U.K. ministers are considering slapping a new tax on vaping products to discourage their use as part of a wider crackdown on the addictive smoking alternative.

Proposals being considered by the government also include regulations on packaging, marketing and flavorings in a bid to stem the increased use of vapes among children, two people with knowledge of the plans told POLITICO’s Playbook PM.

Ministers are not, however, expected to impose an all-out ban on disposable vapes — teeing up a potential constitutional clash with the Scottish government if it goes down that route.

The proposals are being drawn up in response to the Khan review, which was published in 2022 and looked at whether the British government can make England smoking-free before 2030.

The government’s response is set to be published in the spring and could include new legislation to tackle a surge in the use of vapes among young people, while also recognizing their benefits as a smoking cessation aid.

One person in the health department with knowledge of the discussions said: “We will be responding to the Khan Review some time in the Spring. It will look at vaping, with the benefits it has for getting people to stop smoking. Obviously, when it comes to kids vaping, we do have to nip that in the bud.”

Earlier this week England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty told a House of Commons committee that vape marketing to children holds “unknown consequences for developing minds” and branded such targeting “an appalling situation.” The rate of vaping among children had, he warned, doubled in the last couple of years.

But while the U.K. government is not considering a ban on disposable vapes, the devolved Scottish government has already said it will consider one.

Last month, Scottish health minister and now-Scottish National Party leadership hopeful Humza Yousaf said a government review would include “consideration of a potential ban.”

That could tee up a constitutional tussle between the governments in Westminster and Holyrood.

Under the terms of the U.K.’s Internal Market Act, Holyrood could ban the manufacture and sale of the products in Scotland, yet be forced to allow them through the border from England.

The SNP’s Scotland spokesperson at Westminster, Philippa Whitford, told Playbook PM: “This is why the Internal Market Act drives a coach and horses through devolution. Before you even get to the practicality it will create a political clash. You’ll already have the constitutional issue of whether it will be able to happen.”

Andrew McDonald contributed reporting.

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