“European Commission wants to tax e-cigarettes”
What if basic economics tells you that raising a tax on a newer, much safer, product will lead to more consumption of an older much more dangerous product than there would otherwise be? What if the consequence of that tax was to cause more cancer, heart disease and emphysema, and to cause more people to die prematurely? Would you raise that tax? Would you knowingly cause ‘fiscal deaths’?
The European Commission seems intent on doing exactly that. The Financial Times (European Commission considers taxing e-cigarettes) reports on a meeting that happened yesterday 18th February 2015. The meeting agenda document has emerged (PDF) and has set off alarm bells. This is for a meeting of the Fiscalis Project in which officials from the Commission and EU member states gather to talk about the future of EU taxes. The agenda is troubling in several respects: the loaded questions put to attendees at the meeting; the narrow mis-framing of the issues built into the questions; and the barely disguised policy biases of the Commission officials who drew this up. It is not a neutral open-minded inquiry. It is a first step in imposing taxes on a category of vastly safer alternatives to smoking.
Questions raised by the European Commission
The agenda poses six questions for discussion at the meeting…Clive Bates