Dear Minister Bethlenflavy,
My name is Maria Papaioannoy. I represent a movement called Rights4Vapers. We speak for the millions of Canadians who have chosen their health over smoking through vaping. We met in early spring of last year at the Budget Breakfast in Cobourg. I know that you have chatted with thousands of Ontarians, but what I remember the most of the one minute I had with you is that you acknowledged my concerns and fears of a tax being implemented on vaping products.
You can imagine my disappointment yesterday when I read that your government is considering increasing the excise tax on vaping products by matching the federal tax. This is an extreme disservice to all Ontarians who vape. Vapour products have been in use for almost 20 years. There have been countless studies on the health impact of vaping and the results are beyond dispute: vaping is less harmful than smoking. Public Health England even goes as far as to say that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking. Shouldn’t people who smoke in Ontario be allowed to access these life-saving products?
We believe that this less harmful alternative should be available to adults who smoke. Vapour products are the best hope if we are to truly decrease the health impact of tobacco. The problem is that sometimes emotions overcome the facts when it comes to vaping.
One of the major issues we face is the knee-jerk reaction to increase excise taxes on vapour products. Both the federal and provincial governments contend that increasing the price of vapour products will reduce their attractiveness to youth. It is not our place to comment on this supposition.
Our opposition to dramatic increases taxation is based on the premise that vapour products are an effective tobacco harm reduction tool and a proven method to help adult smokers quit smoking, as such they should remain as affordable as possible. Any increase in price closes the gap between vapour products and cigarettes. A cheaper vapour product is much more appealing to an adult smoker than a cigarette – especially to someone who is looking for an alternative to smoking.
More and more people think there is no difference between vaping and smoking. Punitive and unnecessary taxation policies further that confusion. When the average Canadian sees that the government is increasing the price of vapour products, they think that the product is bad.
Any additional tax on vapour products will simply move sales into the black market. We know that the criminals who sell illegal vapour and tobacco products do not comply with any safety regulations, nor do they collect taxes, and, perhaps most concerning of all, they have no problem with selling any product to minors.
I would be happy to meet with you or your team at your convenience to explain why it is critical that no new vaping taxation be implemented until there are robust consultations that include the voice of consumers.
We speak for Canada’s adult vapers. We believe that vapour products should be available and affordable to any adult who is looking now or in the future for a less risky alternative to smoking.