Israeli finance minister Avigdor Lieberman has recently announced what looks like so far the biggest tax-hike for vaping products internationally. The new scheme is set to tax vaping products to the same degree as conventional cigarettes. Surprisingly, no tax increase has been considered for deadly combustible cigarettes.
The new bill will set a wholesale tax of 270% for e-liquids with an additional 11.39 New Israeli Shekels (3.27 Euro) per millilitre with a minimum tax of 21.81 NIS (6.27 Euro). Disposable cigarettes will be subject to a purchase tax of 360% of the common wholesale price, which in any case will not be less than NIS 32.72 (9.31 Euro) per unit.
The decision comes after a joint statement between the Ministry of Finance, the Tax Authority and the Ministry of Health declares that the taxation “aims to reduce the consumption of e-cigarettes that increase the risk of heart disease and respiratory diseases.”
A different statement by the Minister of Finance says “the decision is important in reducing the existing risk from e-cigarettes. In Israel, about 8,000 women and men still die every year as a result of smoking tobacco products, of which about eight-hundreds from passive smoking.“
While the Israeli authorities justified the tax as an additional effort to curb the increasing number of smokers and vapers, many international experts argue that it will have the opposite effect.
“To insist that cardiovascular and respiratory risks of e-cigs is similar to conventional cigarettes is nonsense. Indicates utter ignorance. Such statements are at disagreement with what we have learned about tobacco smoke chemical composition and causes of smoking related diseases over the last 50 years and ignore the vast scientific literature that say e-cigarettes are up to 95% safer,” stressed Prof. Riccardo Polosa, founder of the Center of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction (CoEHAR) of the University of Catania.
“Israel is insisting in the standard tobacco control policies approach dictated by the WHO, that have contributed far too little in the fight against smoking. This new taxation scheme will only restrict consumers’ access to safer nicotine products, thus blunting any potential prospects of additional quitting in that country” said the leading international scientist.
“Surveys and years of trials along with patients show how most smokers are willing to quit and, for that, they attempt numerous times to achieve it. However, as clearly shown in Israel, present conventional smoking cessation approaches expect that smokers abstain from tobacco and nicotine entirely instead of offering less harmful products,” said the leading international scientist.
The bill comes after last year Israeli health authority banned ecigs in public places where conventional cigarettes were banned.
According to a report by the Health Ministry, the number of smokers in the country is estimated at one million and two hundred thousand, with a rate of 22.5% among those aged 21 and over.