Nova Scotia’s vape tax is a public health failure

Hamilton, ON, Sept. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For months, the Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) cautioned the Government of Nova Scotia that their proposed vape tax would harm adult smokers and wipe out age restricted specialty vape stores in favour of Big Tobacco owned vape brands.

The Government of Nova Scotia refused any consultation with industry and continued forward with their misguided approach to taxation. Yesterday, the new tax came into effect and will increase costs on e-liquids by 50 cents per millilitre sold and an additional 20% on the retail value of all vaping devices. The tax will disproportionately impact adult ex-smokers who vape using open (refillable) systems, while the additional cost to Big Tobacco owned closed (non-refillable) pod systems will be insignificant.

For example, a typical 60mL bottle of e-liquid used by adult ex-smokers would be taxed an extra $30 (60mL x 50 cents/mL) effectively doubling its current retail price. While the current closed pod systems favoured by youth typically contain 1mL and are sold in a 3 pack, adding an additional cost of only $1.50.

“The province has stated that the tax is in part designed to make vaping cost prohibitive for youth, yet the products favoured by youth will have a minimal price increase. Disproportionately taxing the open vapour industry has led to the closure of Nova Scotia’s age restricted specialty vape shops, the province’s sole adult-only access point. By refusing to consult with industry and reverse this erroneous tax, Nova Scotia has failed thousands of adult smokers,” said Darryl Tempest, Executive Director of the CVA.

The data has continually shown that taxing vapour products leads to an increase in smoking rates. Notably, the study by the National Bureau of Economic Research confirmed this. “While cigarette taxes reduce cigarette use and e-cigarette taxes reduce e-cigarette use, they also have important interactions on each other. E-cigarettes and cigarettes are economic substitutes. So, if you raise taxes on one product, you will increase use of the other,” said Michael Pesko, a health economist and assistant professor at Georgia State University.

The CVA provided a series of effective policy recommendations which would balance youth protection with reasonable access for adult smokers. Yet, the province refused to listen to experts, review the science, or consult with industry. As a result, Nova Scotia has failed to put forth any semblance of sensible policy. The province has failed its citizens and public health.


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