New Nicotine Alliance Smoke Free Estonia (NNA Suitsuvaba Eesti) commended Estonia’s decision to suspend an excise duty on e-liquids and said that other countries need to follow the example and embrace the full gamut of less harmful alternative nicotine products.
NNA Suitsuvaba Eesti works to achieve a smoke-free Estonia, where people live healthy and happily, by reducing the health damage caused by tobacco smoke, and encourages mature discussion about vaping and alternative novel nicotine products.
The organisation said that the Estonian Parliament voted to suspend the collection of excise duty on e-liquids as it feared passing it would result in increased cross-border trade and promote a black-market.
The move means that tax will not be applied to juice bottles from 1 April 2021. NNA Suitsuvaba Eesti says various estimates show self-mixing, cross-border and smuggled e-liquids “account for 62-80% of the entire Estonian e-liquids market.”
Tarmo Kruusimäe, a member of the Estonian Parliament and chairman of the parliament’s Smoke Free Estonia Support Group, said: “Suspending the collection of excise duty will make it possible to lower the price of e-liquids and thus offer consumers controlled and safe products at a lower price. It has the potential to become a success story if we manage to reduce both the illicit trade and cross-border trade and at the same time offer less harmful alternatives to cigarettes at a more competitive price.”’
The 0.2 euros/ml excise duty was introduced in 2018 and led to Estonian vapers sourcing cheaper eliquids from Latvia and Russia. The organisation notes illicit trade of juice began to grow, “and often minors were both sellers and buyers in that black market”.
At the same time, a ban was placed on all flavours other than tobacco and flavourless liquids.
“For Estonian e-cigarette users, Latvia is the closest country where they can buy e-liquids that suit their taste and meet the European quality and safety requirements.”
The experience ought to serve as a warning to legislators in the Netherlands who are currently pushing to restrict flavours that Dutch vapers can buy.
NNA Suitsuvaba Eesti’s Ingmar Kurg said: “Estonia’s example with over-taxation of e-liquids should definitely be an educational experience for other countries as well. If laboratory-tested and legal products are made too expensive for consumers, they will look for solutions in the black market, self-mixing and cross-border trade. Some people give up e-cigarettes and return to smoking, which happened in Estonia.”
Tarmo Kruusimäe commented: “Estonia should follow the example of European countries which have realized that less harmful products can be used to quit smoking successfully, thus reducing the smoking rate. Estonia should also set itself the goal of becoming a smoke-free country and use the potential of less harmful products to achieve this.
“The Estonian e-cigarette black market is like a stool standing on four legs – extremely high excise duty, flavour ban, e-commerce ban, and other restrictions. Today, we are breaking the leg of excise duty from the black-market stool to make legal e-cigarette liquids more competitive. It is in everyone’s common interest to offer adults a more diverse choice to quit smoking with less harmful products.”