5 February 2021

From vaccines to vaping: leaving the EU is saving British lives

By Mark Oates

It should be obvious to even the most ardent Remainer that leaving the EU has been a boon for Britain’s vaccine procurement. With nearly 15% of Brits now vaccinated we are well ahead of the EU average of just 3%. This will clearly have a positive effect on suppressing the spread of this awful disease and leave us with far fewer excess deaths than we would have had if we were in the EU’s procurement scheme.

However, this isn’t the only area in which the UK can save lives now that it is outside the EU. Over the last 10 years, vaping has helped millions in Europe quit smoking and with it, they have improved their health as we know that vaping is vastly safer than smoking. Sadly however, EU regulators are about to stumble into another field they shouldn’t. The Commission has recently released its Beating Cancer Plan, which ironically has many policy suggestions that will do quite the opposite.

Firstly lawmakers have proposed a ban on flavours in vaping liquids. Unsurprisingly flavoured vapes are a very helpful element in drawing smokers away from cigarettes, but the only flavour the Commission wants to allow is tobacco, the very thing vapers have been trying to avoid. It may come as a surprise to EU officials but E-Liquids don’t naturally taste of tobacco, they in fact start off with an entirely neutral flavour, so to comply with regulations manufacturers will have to add tobacco flavour.

The EU also wishes to ban both smoking and vaping outdoors in public places such as the street. Which makes you wonder, what next? A ban on eating food in public spaces? This policy is not only illiberal and ‘nanny state’ to the tenth degree, but will also treat smokers and vapers as one and the same, despite the clear difference between the two. Vapers in the UK should be alert to governments riding roughshod over smokers rights, because it is quite clear that the public health zealots won’t just stop there. Smokers were first, vapers will be next.

Finally, the EU wants to tax vaping, which even the most humble student of GCSE economics will know will have a detrimental effect on its uptake, disincentivising people to switch from smoking. In the UK the cost disparity between smoking and vaping has provided another incentive for people to move off cigarettes due to the thousands of pounds they can save doing so – it’s no exaggeration to say that taking up vaping instead of smoking will improve the health and finances of Britain’s least well off at a stroke. Meanwhile, the EU wants to remove this price differential, ultimately leading to more smokers not deciding to take up the healthier option.

Given that yesterday ws World Cancer Day, I think it is only right therefore to highlight the incredibly damaging policies which the EU is proposing, policies which will lead only to more cancer and more suffering. Reagan’s old adage about the most dangerous words in the English language – “I am from the Government, I’m here to help” – rings in my ears. Luckily for Britain, we have already run a mile.

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Mark Oates is the Director of We Vape and a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.