Electronic cigarettes: the Federal Council ignores the danger and renounces …
Swiss Tobacco Prevention Working Group
The Federal Council ignores the warnings of health organizations and proposes to Parliament far too low taxation of electronic cigarettes, which also favors liquids with a high nicotine content. Furthermore, it waives a minimum tax to avoid dumping. In doing so, it also ignores the recommendations of the cantonal health directors. The protection of children and adolescents is not guaranteed by this proposal.
In Switzerland, sales of electronic cigarettes are exploding. A growing number of children and adolescents are consuming these harmful and addictive products. The consumption of cigarettes does not decrease for all that. This is one of the important reasons why e-cigarettes should be taxed in the future. These have experienced rapid development since 2018 on the Swiss market, where thousands of different liquids and flavors are offered. These products and liquids, most of which are made in China, are not subject to any quality control. The fifth generation electronic cigarette in particular, better known as the puff bar, is very popular with young people. Its use among minors is currently exploding. Market growth is estimated at 2,200% this year. The arrival of electronic cigarettes on the Swiss market has not caused a drop in the prevalence of tobacco consumption. Cigarette sales even increased by 4% in 2020. There are fears that e-cigarettes are another gateway to nicotine addiction and that the simultaneous consumption of different tobacco and nicotine products is increasing.
The Federal Council’s idea of taxing only the quantity of liquid (and not the concentration of ingredients) is doomed to failure: we are seeing in other countries that liquids are becoming more concentrated (same quantity of ingredients, but less of cash) in order to reduce the tax and thus ultimately circumvent it.
In its message, the Federal Council ignores all the essential points of the proposal made by health organizations, which emphasizes the protection of children and adolescents:
- The Federal Council waives minimum taxation of electronic cigarettes, although this measure is essential to effectively protect young people.
- He is in favor of low taxation and against a model that heavily taxes the nicotine component, although this is responsible for the risk of addiction.
- It waives an adaptation (increase) of the tax rates for all tobacco products (conventional smoking products), although these pose a huge risk of harm to health.
- He renounces to levy a new prevention tax on electronic cigarettes.
- He renounces to observe the evolution of the market in the future.
In its proposal, the Federal Council ignores the potential for addiction as well as the health risks associated with electronic cigarettes for children and adolescents.
AT Switzerland and the health organizations that support us will fight in Parliament to ensure that measures to protect children and adolescents are reintroduced in the project. Our goal is a complete revision of the tobacco tax law, including the increase and adaptation of the tobacco tax rates for all tobacco and nicotine products.
France: explosion in the consumption of puff bars and request for a ban on sales
New figures show that, in France, 10% of young people aged 13 to 16 have already “smoked” a puff bar, although its sale to minors is prohibited there. The risk of addiction and the long-term health risks for our young people are high. Based on these findings, the Alliance Against Tobacco (ACT, France) demands that the sale of disposable electronic cigarettes be immediately banned. These figures from France are all the more worrying as a ban on sales to minors is still lacking throughout Switzerland.
Are electronic cigarettes up to 95% less dangerous? An estimate without scientific basis
Electronic cigarettes are not 95% less dangerous, as is often wrongly claimed. This assertion is not based on any scientific basis: it is a fabrication of the tobacco industry and researchers with proven links with it. It is based on a “study” which, on closer inspection, is only an arbitrary estimate, carried out by a group of hand-picked experts. In 2015, an editorial in The Lancet made it clear that the scientific basis for this claim was arbitrary and that the authors had ties to the tobacco industry. The lack of scientific evidence supporting this claim has been reaffirmed recently. Although current knowledge suggests that they are less harmful, the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are still little known and it is above all a question of protecting non-smokers.
 Nutt, David J.; Phillips, Lawrence D.; Balfour, David; Curran, H. Valerie; Dockrell, Martin; Foulds, Jonathan et al. (2014): Harm estimation of nicotine-containing products using the MCDA approach. In European Addiction Research 20 (5), p. 218-225. DOI: 10.1159/000360220.
 Lancet, The (2015): E-cigarettes: evidence-based confusion from Public Health England. In The Lancet 386 (9996), p. 829. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00042-2.
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Wolfgang Kweitel, Public Affairs,
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