Young vapers in Alberta may be more inclined to kick the habit in the coming months, as the government announced plans to put a 20 per cent tax on vaping products.
According to Budget 2020, the goal of the tax is to discourage usage, especially among youth who will hopefully see the increased cost as a deterrent from either picking up or maintaining their vaping habits.
“Pricing is an important part of reducing the use of vaping products and tobacco products in youth,” Les Hagen with Action on Smoking and Health told Global News.
“It absolutely makes sense to use taxes on vape products to discourage vaping. Tax increases have a more profound impact on youth than adults.”
Hagen said once the budget is passed in the spring, Alberta will become the fourth province in Canada to tax vaping products, falling in line with Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Hagen said according to research into tobacco smoking, for every 10 per cent hike in the price of tobacco, officials have noted an eight to 12 per cent decrease in use among youth — an impact he hopes will be mirrored with the vaping tax.
“This could easily mean a double-digit decline in youth vaping,” Hagen said, adding the main impact would be “immediate.”
He said the impacts are two-fold: the first is that kids currently vaping will be less compelled to keep doing so because it’s expensive, and the second is that the high price tag will keep kids from experimenting with vape products.
“At present, we have 50,000 youth in Grades 6-12 using vaping products and that’s 50,000 too many,” Hagen said. “It’s an enormous problem.”
What’s being taxed?
According to Budget 2020, devices like pens, open systems, pot and cartridge devices and all their accessories will be subject to the tax.
All e-liquids, including cannabis ones, will also be taxed the extra 20 per cent.
The government will also be taxing what it calls “other DIY vaping products,” like propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine solutions and flavourings, that are sold for vaping.
Pharmaceutical products that are approved by Health Canada and have a drug identification numbers, like smoking cessation items, will not be subject to the tax, and neither will tobacco, heat-not-burn tobacco products and shisha/hookah.
Cannabis products that are not for vaping also won’t have the 20 per cent tax tacked on.
Albertans that buy vaping products online from other places and have them shipped to their homes will also see the new tax on their bill.
Is it enough?
Hagen said the tax is an “important part of the solution,” but “taxes alone are not enough,” adding more still needs to be done in terms of vaping legislation, which Alberta is the only province in the country without.
He said he was encouraged to hear the government reiterate its commitment on Thursday to introduce legislation this spring, adding he’d like to see restrictions on the products itself, flavoured vaping products, along with controls on displaying and displaying vaping devices and liquids.
Hagen also said Alberta needs to align its vaping regulations with its tobacco smoking when it comes to public spaces to “reduce youth modelling.”
READ MORE: Alberta budget 2020 winners and losers
When it comes to adult vapers, Hagen said the tax will likely have some impact, but “adults aren’t as price-sensitive as kids.”
The UCP government announced in October 2019 it was launching a Tobacco Act review with the aim of establishing vaping regulations.
The government also intends to introduce several other measures to help address the problems associated with youth vaping,” the budget reads. “More details on these measures will also be available later in 2020, when new legislation and regulations are introduced.”
The government expects the new tax will not only discourage youth vaping, but also net the province $4 million in 2020-21 and a total of $8 million by 2022-23.