Report: Taxes and bans prevent smokers from taking up smoking

High prices, flavour bans and difficulties in finding the products. These are the reasons why smokers, who also use e-cigarettes, do not quit smoking completely. This is according to a major new survey of e-cigarette users in Europe.

In 2020, the organisation carried out ETHRA, European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates, the largest ever survey of e-cigarette users in the EU. 35,000 vejpers answered questions on how their habits are affected by legislation, restrictions and availability.

"The survey was available in 16 languages and is based on the voluntary participation of users in countries where the European Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) is implemented". Writes ETHRA in the report "The EU Nicotine User Survey 2020"

Tough regulations prevent smokers from quitting

According to the ETHRA report, 83% of the 35,000 participants quit smoking completely with the help of vejpning. However, 17% (5939 people) reported that they still smoke on the side. Of these, 70% wanted to quit smoking completely.

"We also asked what factors influence the decision to switch completely to e-cigarettes. It turns out that tough regulations and taxes are some of the biggest reasons why smokers don't switch." ETHRA writes.

High taxes make e-cigarettes too expensive

A total of 24 per cent mention the cost of vejpa as a main reason for not completely replacing their cigarettes. 12 per cent responded that the availability of the products is a factor. But according to ETHRA, there is a big difference between countries, both in terms of prices and availability. And this clearly affects the number of smokers who do not make the full transition to smoking.

"In Germany, which at the time had no tax on e-liquidonly a small proportion, 11 per cent of smokers, said that price was a reason for switching completely. In Finland, on the other hand, where both a flavour ban and a tax of SEK 30 per 10 ml are in place, nearly half, 43%, said that price and availability prevented them from switching completely to e-cigarettes," ETHRA writes in its analysis.

Similar figures are seen in Italy, Portugal and Estonia. According to ETHRA, the survey clearly shows that high costs are becoming a key determinant of how many smokers switch to e-cigarettes.

Reduces harm for smokers who quit completely

According to the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom, the it is likely that smokers who switch to vejpning reduces the risk of smoking-related diseases by almost 95% or more. But this requires smokers to switch completely to e-cigarettes. The risks of smoking remain to a large extent even with reduced use, says the British Cancer Society, which together with the RCOF and the Department of Health wants to use e-cigarettes to reduce smoking in England.

"This means that politicians in countries that use taxes and other types of restrictions such as flavour bans to control vejp products are effectively preventing smokers from quitting using e-cigarettes. Legislation becomes a barrier to better health," ETHRA writes in its analysis.

Sources for this article:
EU nicotine users survey 2020 (pdf)
EU nicotine users report 2020 (press release)

Smoking and Health 2021: a coming of age for tobacco control - Royal College of Physicians
Nicotine without smoke - Royal College of Physiscians

E-cigarette safety - Cancer research UK

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