Israel Imposes World Highest E-cigarette Tax

Israel World highest e-cigarette tax already debated for a decade, to take effect next week.

The minimum tax on e-juice is $6.98 per ml and $10.47 on pre-filled cartridges or disposables vapes.

November 17 – Israel is planning to impose a tax on e-cigarette products that would be the highest globally, and Israelis have only a few days to comment publicly on the strange plan, according to a foreign news report.

The new tax will come into effect next week, according to an online publication. According to the same article, government officials believe the tax will phase out disposable vapes, popular with young people.

After a decade of tax-free sales and nearly two years of unresolved issues in government departments, the Ministry of Finance, headed by Minister Avigdor Lieberman, has issued an order imposing a purchase tax on e-cigarettes.

The Ministry of Health’s position on this issue is clear – about three years ago, the Ministry said it supported a total purchase tax on e-cigarettes, just as it does on cigarettes and other tobacco products, which are harmful to public health. The tax authorities and the Ministry of Finance delayed these provisions.

Last year, the Quit Smoking Petition took the High Court to the Ministry of Finance and Health, asking them to end the legal distortions regarding e-cigarettes. A hearing on the issue is due to take place in court at the end of December.

Last month, the Smoking Eradication Project approached Finance Minister Ram Blinkov to highlight the importance of a purchase tax on e-cigarettes, including increased use of disposable vapes.

According to the Stop Smoking Project, given the freedom to sell these products without taxation, it is not surprising that current realities have shown increasing use of disposable vapes by young people, reaching a widespread and dangerous level.

According to a survey conducted by the Quit Initiative between March and April 2021, based on a representative sample of teens aged 13-17 and adults aged 18 and older in the Jewish community, e-cigarettes were found to be the leading experiential product among teens for the first time, more than any other products. About 24% of 15-17-year-olds have tried e-cigarettes, 6.1% of which were disposable vapes – although the Israeli market has only recently begun selling disposable vapes.

Israel is failing to combat the phenomenon of smoking, which is claiming lives every day. About 8,000 people die each year due to smoking, and there is no prospect of change.

Although comprehensive legislation prevents non-smoking populations from being exposed to environmental tobacco smoke, surveys and a government report on health and environment show that more than 50% of the Israeli population (including non-smokers) – smokers and children – are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.

In Israel, a substance indicating exposure to tobacco smoke 24 hours before the measurement was found in 59% of children tested. This rate was higher than in children in Canada, Germany, the UK, and Cyprus. And among adults. In around 60% of non-smokers, continin was found in urine, indicating severe exposure to compulsive smoking. No improvement in this subject has been recorded since 2011.

How much does the public know about the dangers of smoking? Researchers at Tel Aviv University examined the knowledge of Israelis (smokers and non-smokers) about cigarettes. They found a lack of knowledge about the health damage caused by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. For example, 20% of the study participants were unaware that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke causes lung cancer. Researchers from the University of Haifa found that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer among Arab women. In contrast, researchers from Tel Aviv University and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York found that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke affected atherosclerosis and showed a causal relationship.

Thus, according to Professor Hagai Levin, an epidemiologist at Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University and former president of the Association of Public Health Physicians, taxing e-cigarettes is just one of the many steps the government must now take.

The fact is that Israel has had a tax distortion on this issue for years, a flaw that is damaging to public health. There is no justification for this – either health or economic. Taxation cannot be a single step. The approach must be inclusive. If the banning is not supervised and unenforced, We will see illegal displays of cigarettes everywhere, and our policy is ineffective. Bans on advertising, rehabilitation, education, and taxation are needed. The government still has a long way to go.

Shira Kislev, CEO of the Stop Smoking Project, responded: As we submitted in the High Court debate on the subject, taxing e-cigarettes has been a necessary step for many years. We are sorry that the Minister of Finance has agreed to push for taxing the product ahead of the High Court hearing in next month’s regular petition. He is concerned that the court will order him to sign the order as it did in the previous petition to eliminate smoking which was appropriate in the past. The use of these harmful products, especially by teenagers and young people, will likely not reach alarming levels today. This time the law, we welcome it – but are more than willing to wait and see it happen.

The tax plan would impose a 270% wholesale tax on bottled e-juice plus 11.39 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) per milliliter (with a minimum tariff of 21.81 NIS per milliliter). 1 NIS equals 32 cents, which means a minimum tax of $6.98 per milliliter on e-juice. The minimum tax on pre-filled cartridges or disposables is 32.72 NIS per pc, equalling $10.47.

The draft Finance Ministry order for public comment is available until November 21 at 9:00 a.m. Only received 14 comments so far.

Like the current taxes in the US Rebuild Better Act, the Israeli tax proposal seeks to tax e-cigarette products at the same rate as cigarettes. The effect – to make low-risk nicotine products as expensive as deadly ones – is the opposite of what rational public policy should do.

Media analysis that such a tax rate on e-cigarettes is not intended to raise money for the government but to destroy the e-cigarette market. Such an extreme tax would be counterproductive and immediately create a black market.


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