name Social Party Germany
class political party
category corporate-left (originally labour)
funding various
association ABNR
bloomberg ties -
motivation taxation
science aversion 🟥🟥🟥🟧🟧

Olaf Scholz, finance minister and SPD party lead, recently forced the introduction of e-liquid taxation in Germany. Initial plans for prohibition taxes (4ct/mg nicotine, or up to 8.00EUR/10ml) were rejected by the coalition partner. But final taxation levels will reach 3.20EUR/10ml still. This was accompanied by a laughable raise in combustible tobacco taxes (0.25ct/cigarette, realistically 8-15ct/pack increments).

The legislatiton was roundly criticised by the scientific community (medical, tobacco and addiction research), all other political parties, customs union, the media, consumer groups, and obviously vaping companies. It's likely to drive e-cigarette liquids onto imports and grey markets, independent vape shops possibly out of business come 2026. While tobacco companies will only see mediocre taxation on their pod vape devices and combustibles. The legislation focus was squarely on (overestimated) taxation without any genuine population health considerations.

It since emerged that there was ample interaction with the tobacco industry prior to the legislation. And incredibly unscientific pretexts for e-cigarette taxation were provided by ABNR (a local pharma frontgroup purporting to advocate for smoking reduction).

pretexts

Publicized rationale and discussions in health and finance committees was limited to a few traditional assumptions:

  • E-cigarettes are not entirely harmless, ergo harmful. (Possible proliferation of anti-vax sentiments/obligingness.)
  • Exaggerated teen use "concerns" to legitimize high taxation. (Unserious. No intent to research or strengthen existing youth protection laws / or lacking enforcement.)
  • Disputation of cessation benefits.
  • Refutation on probable contraband outcomes.
  • And taxation on vape liquids would equalize them with combustibles. (This seems largely based on the notion that e-cigarettes were utilized as sort of tax evasion scheme.)
  • Members of the SPD were still regularly claiming US EVALI cases were caused by e-cigarettes. (Requests to clarify the info origin remained unanswered. It's possible they were still reinforced by ABNR (embedded in one of the canned responses), despite prior newsletters clarifying otherwise.)
  • Notes like "15 cigarettes equal 15 mg nicotine" signals limited interest on the actual data, or addiction potential and behaviour/effects. Nicotine was used as protogenic consideration to taxate e-cigarettes on (expert repsonse: "unscientific, at best").
  • Barely superficial impact assessment, vaguely claiming even that the new taxation models would "reduce smoking for adults and adolescents". Evaluation is to be constrained to tax observation.

responses

committee participants

  • Binding (SPD) is a withdrawing parliament member, possibly not that relevant. His involvement seemed more of a parting gift to pacify his "non-smokers protection" guise. Known entanglement with ABNR. Clarification requests (EVALI, tobacco vs nicotine addiction, cancer risks) were evaded with canned responses/hyperbole. Appears driven by quite genuine misapprehensions on real harm/addiction differences however.
  • Schrodi (SPD) seemed tasked with lackey deeds to advance the legislation, leading in harm exaggerations and conflations from ABNR. And otherwise displayed some Krishnamoorthi-level expertise on scientific consensus and obvious outcomes. Gooky consultant interaspirations also made the committee meetings appear decidedly preconcluded.

context

  • Somewhat irrelevant, but tobacco tax revision was expressely excluded in the original coalition agreement (SPD/CDU). Economic downturn from Covid possibly prompted the sudden move to revisit taxes.
  • The legislation clearly wasn't meant or fit to be used in the upcoming elections.
  • Similar taxes caused a smoking/black market increase in Italy/Hungary. Unlikely this wasn't made known beforehand.
  • Minuscle combustible tax raises are certain to have no realistic steering effect towards smoking cessation.
  • Germany has the laxest tobacco regulations in Europe, and remains the prime exporteur of industrial cigarettes. Virtually no state funded cessation efforts. No regulation for health insurers either.
  • In response to an opposition request on the silently depreciated vape tax estimates: "all calculations by the finance ministry are serious" accompanied by an Olaf smirk. (Might just be parliamentary jesting, not uncommon. But could also indicate some understanding of the euphemistic initial calculations; or more likely the smoking relapse effects.)
  • See also: legislation documents (Bundestag)