Vapers in Bahrain were given no warning when the government decided to place a 100% sin tax on vaping products
Taxes levied against vaping are nothing new. It seems like for almost as long as vaping has been a popular harm reduction and smoking cessation tool, legislators across the globe have attempted to either reign in their use, or profit off their popularity with increasingly steep taxes. A vast majority of these regulations have done little more than amend the definition of “tobacco products” to include vaporizers, thereby placing them under the jurisdiction of existing tobacco control laws.
While most of these law changes have been subject to some form of oversight or approval process, in the worst cases, vapers have been given no advance warning of any kind. These special cases have resulted in nothing less than a wholly altered vaping landscape overnight. This is precisely what happened earlier this year in Bahrain when the government instituted a 100% sin tax on certain vaping products. A move they accomplished by merely classifying vaping as a tobacco product.
The 100% Tax
Earlier this year the government in Bahrain put the vaping industry there in a very challenging position. Without any form of warning, vapers and shop owners woke up in mid-July to discover e-liquids now carried a 100% sin tax. The affected products and how much they would now cost was listed in a release by the Finance Ministry in Bahrain. For instance a 60ml bottle of e-liquid used to cost six Bahraini dinars, but according to the statement should now cost twelve. This new tax is especially hard on vape shop owners who typically import over 40,000 bottles of e-liquid every month. As you can imagine, doubling the cost of running their businesses has many worried about being forced to close their doors.
Not ready to take this tax without a fight, the Bahrain vaping community set out to make the case for a repealed, or significantly reduced, vaping tax. Their primary argument so far has been pointing out the clear issues with equating vaping with smoking, given that vaping contains no tobacco. Many shop owners have started posting using the #Bahrain_Vape_Is_Not_Tobacco in an attempt to spread the word about this ridiculous tax. Others are concerned that the increased cost of vaping will lead many who have successfully switched back into a life of tobacco use.
The Case For Vaping
It’s understandable why so many non-smokers tend to think about vaping and smoking as the same; After all, vaping and smoking appear very similar from a distance. But anyone who has done both for an extended period will tell you that the experiences are entirely different. Aside from personal experience, vaping and smoking are scientifically distinct. With smoking being the result of combustion and vaping being vaporization. Burning anything creates several harmful substances to inhale, including tar and carbon monoxide, while vaporization dramatically limits or even eliminates your exposure to these sorts of substances.
We’ve known since at least 2015 thanks to research by Public Health England that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. But did you also know that research published last fall indicates the lifetime excess cancer risk of a smoker is around 57,000 times higher than a vaper? If that wasn’t enough to make the case, we also have substantial evidence that vaping is not only an effective smoking cessation tool, but actually the single best device we currently have at our disposal.
While it may seem like insane taxes, like the 100% tax in Bahrain, may only be liable to happen in distant countries, the truth is that this level of regulation can happen anywhere. For example, the governor of Rhode Island has proposed an 80% tax on all vaping products, not just e-liquids, for the last two years. Luckily this tax was shot down both times, but the threat remains as long as the public understanding of the benefits of vaping stays so low. Polls indicate that only around 13% of the general public understand that vaping is much safer than smoking, while approximately twice that number falsely believe that vaping is just as, if not more dangerous.
As long as the public perception of vaping is this bad, it will be incredibly hard to prevent taxes like this from becoming law. That’s why we must do everything we can to support and spread the incredible work being done on the harm reduction and smoking cessation benefits of vaping. If we are ever to rid the world of the smoking epidemic once and for all, we must utilize our best tools, including vaping.
Do you think that a tax similar to this could happen where you live? What’s the best way to improve the public perception of vaping? Are you surprised by how few people seem to understand the benefits of vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.