“The current provisions of Directive 2011/64/EU have become less effective, as they are either no longer sufficient or too narrow to address current and future challenges, concerning some products, such as liquids for e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products and other types of next-generation products, which are entering the market,” read a Council conclusions draft as quoted by EURACTIV.com.
“It is therefore urgent and necessary to upgrade the EU regulatory framework, in order to tackle current and future challenges in respect of the functioning of the internal market by harmonising definitions and tax treatment of novel products (such as liquids for e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products), including products, whether or not containing nicotine, that substitute tobacco, in order to avoid legal uncertainty and regulatory disparities in the EU,” continued the draft.
Combustible products and safer alternatives should be regulated differently
Many health experts and anti-tobacco organizations had spoken up about the consequences that would come about with the introduction of such a tax. It had been pointed out that as in the case of the TPD, including tobacco alternatives in a directive targeting combustible tobacco products, would just lead to confusing the public.
To this effect, in January 2018 the EU Commission had delayed the decision about the implementation of such a tax to 2019, stating that they had not gathered enough data to justify the move.
Later that year French consumer group SOVAPE had started a petition inviting vapers and other interested parties to “Act now to stop the EU vape tax”. The NNA, together with sixteen other EU consumer associations, were in support of this initiative.
The negative aspect of not having an EU-wide tax in place
Currently, the tax situation in the EU remains fragmented, as different member states have imposed different tax rates on different products. In February 2020, the executive published a report suggesting that this lack of uniformity is a source of concern from the internal market perspective.
“On the market side, developments have accelerated within new e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products and a new generation of modern products are coming into the market (containing nicotine or cannabis),” read the report. “The current lack of harmonisation of the tax regulatory framework for these products is also restricting the possibility to monitor their market development and control their movements.”
Subsequently, last week on the 27th of May, at a COREPER II meeting, EU member states asked the EU to present a legislative proposal to Council, with the objective of “resolving, as appropriate, the concerns set out in these conclusions”, referring to the draft they presented.
Menthol ban has gone into effect across the EU
Meanwhile, the European Union Revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) has recently banned the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes. Despite Brexit, this ban applies also to the UK and includes capsule, click on, click & roll, crushball or dual menthol cigarettes, and excludes vaping and heated tobacco products. As of the 20th of May, anyone caught selling menthol cigarettes across the EU could be fined up to €1,000.