Representatives of the e-cigarette industry want to go to court and prevent their products from being taxed significantly higher than before. Because of the tobacco tax reform, a constitutional complaint will be submitted to the Federal Constitutional Court, said the chairman of the alliance for tobacco-free enjoyment, Dustin Dahlmann, in Berlin. On Wednesday, a parliamentary committee approved a change in the law, according to which a 10 milliliter liquid for e-cigarettes will be charged 1.60 euros more in taxes next year. The tobacco tax is expected to rise to 3.20 euros by 2026. "That is completely disproportionate," says Dahlmann.
Currently, only VAT is charged on the liquids for the evaporators. In addition to VAT, tobacco tax will also become due next year. A 10-milliliter liquid currently costs roughly 5 euros - in five years such a container would rise to around 8.20 euros if the net price remained the same. Industry representative Dahlmann points out that the liquids contain far fewer harmful substances than tobacco cigarettes. "This advantage must also be reflected in tax terms." However, this is not the case in the amendment to the law.
The Ministry of Finance's calculation, according to which tobacco tax revenues from liquids will increase from 108 to 717 million euros in the years 2022 to 2026, also causes a lack of understanding in the industry.
"That would mean that significantly more people would start vaping than today - but that is unrealistic given the foreseeable price jumps," says the industry representative.
Great Britain as a role model?
He accuses the legislature of missing an actual goal of the law with the reform course that has now been taken, namely better health protection.
Instead of getting people from smoking to e-cigarette consumption with relatively low taxation, the opposite is being done: "The e-cigarette is made less attractive with a strong tax jump, while the tax surcharge on the tobacco cigarette is only small."
In the UK, liquids are only subject to VAT and their consumption is recommended by health politicians for dependent smokers, said Dahlmann.
The United Kingdom now has a smoking rate of just 14 percent.
In Germany, on the other hand, around one in four adults still smokes, which puts you in a very bad position by international comparison.
E-cigarettes are still a niche industry in Germany.
According to estimates by the Alliance for Tobacco-Free Enjoyment, the e-cigarette industry made a turnover of 450 million euros in liquids and devices in this country last year.
In 2015, a study commissioned by the British health authorities concluded that e-cigarettes were around 95 percent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.
But there are also critical voices.
The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) refers to aerosols that are created when liquids are heated and that can contain carcinogenic or possibly carcinogenic substances.
"Compared to tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes are very probably much less harmful, but they are not harmless lifestyle products," the DKFZ says.
"Non-smokers should not use e-cigarettes because of the unknown long-term health effects." The Federal Office for Risk Assessment calls e-cigarettes "anything but harmless".
On Friday night, the Bundestag is to vote in plenary on the tobacco tax reform; on June 25, it is the Federal Council's turn.
It is almost certain that the amendment will be accepted with its current content.