Geoff Russ: Vaping regulations aim to protect tobacco tax revenue

Federal and provincial governments love their tobacco revenue and will fight to protect it, even if it means higher smoking rates and more deaths.

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It’s National Non-Smoking Week in Canada, which falls on the third week of January and is dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of cigarettes. January 2022 is also the month when Health Canada hoped to implement a ban on flavored vaping products – a proposal that will discourage smokers from switching to less harmful products. But maybe that’s exactly the point.

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No one should be surprised that money and taxes have played a huge role in shaping the public health crusade to end smoking in Canada. The anti-tobacco crusade once aimed to reduce cancer rates, make restaurants smellier and clear halls of emphysema. The nicotine wasn’t the bad guy, the carcinogens were.

In order to achieve these goals, governments have begun to levy increasingly punitive taxes on nicotine addicts in the name of deterrence. And they ended up becoming addicted to that income.

It is no coincidence that federal and provincial tobacco tax revenues have remained mostly static over the past decade while the percentage of Canadian smokers has declined significantly as higher taxes have made up for the shortfalls. to be won caused by people who quit smoking. Total provincial and federal tobacco tax revenue in Canada was about $7.5 billion last year, more than double what the federal carbon tax generated in 2020.

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Tax grabs are rarely taken without moral smoothing, so authorities have shifted the goals of the anti-tobacco crusade to include vaping because they want a slice of the pie. Carcinogens, produced by the combustion of tobacco products and absent from vaping liquids, are no longer the target; it is now nicotine, a substance closer to caffeine than anything else.

Vaping carries a tiny risk of lung damage, but nothing compared to over 20% of smokers developing cancer. Nevertheless, the provincial and federal governments of Canada are doing their best to convince everyone that vaping is a perilous vice that should be restricted, but not banned and made non-taxable.

“Vapor-flavored products like strawberries and ice cream give young people the false impression that vaping is harmless when it’s just as addictive as smoking,” said Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman, last April. His comments reveal that habit, not health effects, is the new rationale for raising taxes.

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Smokers turning to vaping have reduced provincial tobacco tax revenues in recent years. British Columbia therefore increased taxes on vaping products in 2020, while Saskatchewan increased its tax on vaping products from 6% to 20% the following year. Both provinces tried to justify the tax hikes with dissuasive language.

Last summer, Health Canada recommended a complete federal ban on all flavored vaping products except mint, menthol and tobacco – an idea imported from the United States, which has begun to crack down on flavored vaping products in 2020.

The US flavor ban has worked, as teenage vape use has declined. But a side effect was that the number of American cigarette smokers rose for the first time in 20 years. Those in Canada calling for new restrictions on vaping are fully aware that their recommendations will increase tobacco sales and cancer rates.

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“The total loss of profit for the vaping industry that also manufactures tobacco products can be mitigated by substituting tobacco purchases for two users who would start smoking again,” reads Health Canada’s 2021 report on tobacco products. potential effects of a flavor ban. “They would choose to buy more cigarettes, thereby making up for lost sales of tobacco or mint/menthol flavored vaping products.”

This statement alone shows how irresponsible the proposed regulations are.

Vapes allow all the benefits of nicotine, without the significant risk of cancer and other diseases that come with smoking.

Although some research has found cancer-causing chemicals in some vaping products, they have not been shown to cause cancer. As Cancer Research UK puts it bluntly on its website, “there is no strong evidence that vaping causes cancer”.

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For its part, nicotine, although highly addictive, has positive benefits. Medical experts reluctantly admit that it improves your mood and concentration, and anyone who’s tried it can confirm that’s the truth.

The switch from cigarettes to vapes has allowed millions of people to avoid inhaling deadly carcinogens. So why are Canadian governments so keen on punishing vapers and the vaping industry with new taxes and regulations?

Probably because vapes are the biggest threat to tobacco tax revenue. Nicotine use will never be eradicated and the public health crusade devoted to it will never succeed, in part because Ottawa and the provinces don’t want it because it makes them money.

The vaping industry has also become very valuable. People made a fortune out of it, which means the taxman wants a cut. Federal and provincial governments love their revenue from tobacco and will fight to protect it, even if it means high smoking rates and more deaths.

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  1. E-cigarettes have become a booming industry, worth nearly $2 billion in the United States alone, a market that some analysts believe will eventually overtake that of traditional cigarettes.

    Here’s another sick government attack on the life-saving e-cigarette

  2. A man who vapes

    Mark Bonokoski: Health Canada denounces a counter-intuitive vaping policy

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