The Local Government Association (LGA) is urging the UK government to reduce the VAT on vaping products from 20% to 5%, to bring them in line with the rates on regular NRTs such as nicotine gum and patches.
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, said that the current law only allows the 5% rate to be applied to “pharmaceutical products designed to help people stop smoking tobacco.” The association added that given the existing scientific evidence indicating that the products do actually help people quit, the 5% rate should be applied.
“There is increasing evidence that e-cigarettes, along with other dedicated support, act as an important gateway to help people to stop smoking, which reduces serious illness and death as well as other pressures on health and care services,” said the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board chairman, David Fothergill.
The UK leads the way in tobacco harm reduction
Meanwhile last October, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, stated that any approved vaping products, will be made available for doctors to prescribe. “This country continues to be a global leader on healthcare, whether it’s our Covid-19 vaccine rollout or our innovative public health measures reducing people’s risk of serious illness,” said Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
“Opening the door to a licensed e-cigarette prescribed on the NHS has the potential to tackle the stark disparities in smoking rates across the country, helping people to stop smoking wherever they live and whatever their background,” added Javid, who has in recent weeks been criticized for suggesting a smoking ban outside pubs and restaurants.
A recent survey revealed that over a third of the public are in favour of vaping being made available on the NHS. The GoSmokeFree.co.uk survey questioned 1,200 respondents with the aim of gauging how they feel about this development. A significant 35% were in favour of the products being available on prescription given their smoking cessation potential. Given the risks associated with regular cigarettes, another 38% said they believe cigarettes should be banned, while 45% do not feel that local anti-smoking laws are tough enough.