LGA: Review VAT on e-cigarette sales to help stop smoking efforts

To mark No Smoking Day today (Wednesday), the LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, is calling for VAT on e-cigarette sales to be reduced from 20 to 5 per cent to bring it in line with sales on nicotine gum and patches.


Part of a man's face while he smokes an e-cigarette

The Government should cut Value Added Tax (VAT) on the sale of vaping products to help people to stop smoking, the Local Government Association says today.

To mark No Smoking Day today (Wednesday), the LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, is calling for VAT on e-cigarette sales to be reduced from 20 to 5 per cent to bring it in line with sales on nicotine gum and patches.

Current legislation allows a 5 per cent rate to be applied to “pharmaceutical products designed to help people stop smoking tobacco”. 

The LGA said there is growing evidence that using e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking, with a recent study suggesting that people who use vaping products such as e-cigarettes are twice as likely to stop smoking than those who use nicotine patches.

Councils argue that making legal vaping products more affordable and treating them equally with other cessation methods, will incentivise more people to quit smoking by making them cheaper to purchase.

As well as reducing VAT on e-cigarettes, councils are calling on the Government to impose a Smokefree 2030 Levy on tobacco manufacturers. The revenue generated from this could be targeted in geographical areas, occupational groups and communities where the need for cessation services are most needed.

Last year, around 13 per cent of the UK population smoked, with smoking-related illness such as lung cancer still being one of the leading causes of preventable death in the UK. As well as impacting upon health, smoking places a significant burden on the public purse – to the tune of £12.6 billion each year. Beyond the significant cost to the health and social care system, it also impacts the local economy through sick days and lost productivity.

Reducing smoking rates among the remaining 5.7 million smokers in England will reduce cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions and cancer, meaning people can live longer in better health.

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board said:
“Council public health teams work hard to help reduce smoking rates in their areas, alongside local charities and community groups, and it is testament to their efforts that smoking rates continue to fall.

“Cutting the VAT on the sale of e-cigarettes would be an important way to continue to encourage more people to quit smoking and would bring e-cigarettes in line with other cessation methods such as patches and gum.

“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.

“Every pound invested by government in council-run services such as public health helps to relieve pressure on other services like the NHS, criminal justice and welfare. Councils can help the Government to achieve its ambition of eliminating smoking in England by 2030, through their tobacco control and other public health and support services, but need certainty over their long-term funding.”

Notes to editors

An expert independent evidence review published by Public Health England (PHE) concludes that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.

It is essential we continue to monitor evidence on e-cigarettes as it emerges. The most comprehensive of e-cigarette reviews commissioned by UKHSA is due for publication later this year and includes data on patterns of use among adults and youth and 9 systematic reviews on the potential risks from vaping.