Lifestyle Economics

New index shows UK second best place in the EU to be a vaper



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Press Release

IEA reacts to proposal for Government to handout £10,000 to millennials to fix intergenerational unfairness

IEA releases 2018 Nanny State Index: Nicotine Supplement

A new league table of nanny state regulation shows that punitive taxation and excessive regulation of safer nicotine alternatives has increased across the EU. The UK, however, ranks as the second least interventionist country.

The 2018 Nanny State Index Nicotine Supplement, published today by the Institute of Economic Affairs and the European Policy Information Centre (EPICENTER), looks at the obstacles consumers face when buying reduced-risk nicotine products.

The UK is unusually liberal in its treatment of e-cigarettes. This is in contrast to its excessive regulation of food, alcohol and tobacco for which it was ranked as the second worst country in the EU last year.

But indoor vaping bans, advertising bans and taxation are all on the rise in European countries. In the last year, six more countries have introduced an excise tax on e-cigarette fluid, and three more countries have prohibited vaping wherever smoking is banned.

These increases in “sin taxes” and bans must be resisted here in the UK as they will stifle the market, harm consumer choice and have negative consequences for health.

There is a growing consensus that vaping is at least 95 per cent safer than cigarette smoking. Obstructing consumers from these safer alternatives by over-regulating the market will make it more difficult for consumers to switch from cigarettes to vaping to the detriment of their health.

It is vitally important that the UK maintains its liberal approach towards regulating reduced-risk nicotine products.

Key findings:

•    Sweden has the most liberal approach to safer nicotine products, followed by the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherlands

•    Finland and Hungary have the least liberal policies on safer nicotine products

•    The countries with the lowest smoking rates – Sweden and Britain – have the most liberal laws on safer nicotine products

•    The number of countries in Europe which tax e-cigarette fluid has risen from eight to twelve since 2017

•    The number of countries in Europe which ban vaping wherever smoking is banned has risen from nine to twelve since 2016

•    Most European countries have allowed new heat-not-burn products onto the market at a lower tax rate than cigarettes but the EU continues to maintain its ban on Swedish snus

Commenting on the report, Chris Snowdon, author and Head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“The UK’s liberal approach to vaping has become a model for the rest of the world. The UK is an oppressive nanny state in many ways, but it has managed to strike the right balance when it comes to e-cigarettes. EU regulations have held the market back in the last two years but Brexit provides an opportunity to get the UK vaping revolution back on track.”

Notes to editors: 

For media enquiries please contact Nerissa Chesterfield, Communications Officer: [email protected] or 0207 799 8920 or 07791 390 268

To download a copy of ‘The Nanny State Index 2018: Nicotine Supplement’, please click here.

To download a copy of ‘The Nanny State Index 2017’ please click here.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems and seeks to provide analysis in order to improve the public understanding of economics.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.

EPICENTER, the European Policy Information Center, is an independent initiative of eight leading think tanks from across the European Union. It seeks to inform the EU policy debate and promote the principles of a free society by bringing together the economic expertise of its members.

EPICENTER is formed by the Centre for Political Studies (Denmark), Civil Development Forum (Poland), Civismo (Spain), the Institut Economique Molinari (France), the Institute of Economic Affairs (UK), Instituto Bruno Leoni (Italy), the Lithuanian Free Market Institute and Timbro (Sweden). Like its members, EPICENTER is politically independent and does not accept taxpayer funding.

Further IEA Reading: Joint Venture – Estimating the Size and Potential of the UK Cannabis Market