Will the cost cigarettes and vapes go up after the spring Budget?

Vape products and cigarettes are both set to become more expensive

Albert Toth
Thursday 07 March 2024 09:14 GMT
Related video: Martin Lewis explains what you can expect from the spring Budget

The government is expected to introduce a new tax on vapes and another increase to tobacco duty in this week’s spring Budget, according to reports.

The measures would effectively make both vapes and cigarettes more expensive to purchase.

Under the reported plans, vaping products would be given a dedicated ‘vaping products levy’, similar to tobacco products. Currently they are only subjected to VAT. The two measures combined are forecast to raise over £500m a year by 2028/29.

Vaping is set to become more expensive
Vaping is set to become more expensive (Joel Saget / AFP via Getty Images)

Tobacco duty will also potentially see an increase, despite having risen twice in 2023. This would be to ensure that vaping still remains a cheaper alternative to tobacco products.

The vaping levy would be paid on imports and by manufacturers, and aims to make the habit unaffordable for children. It applies specifcally to vape liquids, with higher levels of tax for products with higher levels of nicotine.

Fifteen other countries in Europe operate similar schemes, with the EU planning a standardised bloc-wide levy. Germany currently levies €1.60 per 10ml of vape liquid, while Italy charges €1.30.

How much more will vaping cost?

While the exact cost of the vaping levy won’t be known until after the spring Budget, it is expected Mr Hunt will seek to emulate the success of similar tax-raising initiatives in EU countries.

If the UK were to implement similar measures to Germany for instance, vapers should expect to pay an extra £1.40 for every 10ml of vape liquid. This means an average £4 bottle of E-liquid would rise to £5.40.

Given this amount lasts the average vape user around one week, someone who vapes every week of the year could expect an extra annual tax burden of £72.80.

This cost will also rise for those purchasing products with higher levels of nicotine.

How much more will cigarettes cost?

After last years’ second rise in tobacco duty, the average price of a packet of 20 cigarettes grew to £14.39 – up by £1.55. It is expected that the new rate will see that average grow to £16, a further increase of £1.61.

The government currently offers a ‘swap to stop’ scheme, offering smokers free vaping starter packs to help them quit tobacco. The NHS recommends this as a viable method to quit smoking, stating that vaping is “substantially less harmful”.

John Dunne, Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association, said: “It makes absolutely no sense to make it more difficult for adults to stop smoking by penalising those who choose a safer and healthier option in vaping.”

However, the government says the plans are designed to prevent youth vaping. Currently, 22 per cent of the UK’s 16- to 24-year-olds take up the habit.

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