RELX International is asking governing bodies to look into safer smoking alternatives which should be less expensive than tobacco cigarettes

This follows on from the customs duties levied on e-cigarette products which were introduced into the Kingdom earlier this year

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: RELX International, a responsible multinational electronic cigarette company, is calling on authorities to reconsider the increase its customs duties levied on e-cigarette products it implemented in January 2022.

These better and less harmful smoking alternatives are now as expensive as tobacco cigarettes – and this increased taxation could spur the growth of black-market activities. Furthermore, it is putting consumers’ health further at risk, reducing government tax income and could be seen as an obstacle for investors within the Kingdom.

In recent years scientific research, as well as national healthcare providers, including the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), have recognised e-cigarette products as a better alternative to tobacco cigarettes and have highlighted their use as a ‘stop smoking aid’[1].

In contrast, the World Health Organisation warns that cigarettes kills up to half of its users and is responsible for the deaths of more than eight million people per year [2]. Tobacco cigarette smoking can also put a strain on public healthcare systems and government funds, due to its link with diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and COPD [3].

Considering the mounting evidence that showcases e-cigarettes are a better alternative and/ or a tool for consumers to quit smoking altogether, it’s logical that authorities maintain a lower and risk-proportionate tax rate compared to tobacco products.

This would align with global best practices in terms of taxes associated with high-risk versus low-risk products. For example, taxes are steeper on sugar-rich beverages as compared to healthier alternatives.

Global research also reveals that taxes levied to push people away from cigarettes and other potentially harmful products (also known as Sin Tax) mostly hits people who can least afford to pay it [4]. This means that this taxation conflicts with one of the eight Principles of Harm Reduction, which “Calls for the non-judgmental, non-coercive provision of services and resources to people who use drugs and the communities in which they live in order to assist them in reducing attendant harm” [5].

Robert Naouss, External Affairs Director at RELX International, adds RELX International believes legal-age consumers have the right to access less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes, rather than being forced to continue with the latter or relapsing into old habits/products.

“In that same vein, it is important they are not pushed into considering the use of black-market products, purely because they are a less expensive alternative to those available via legal, regulated channels.”

Products smuggled into countries and sold via the black-market are unregulated and of questionable quality, as per the US Food & Drug Administration department. These products can even find their way into the hands of young people and can cause major health issues [6]. In scenarios such as this, governments contend with a loss of tax revenue on individual products, while also dipping into financial reserves to fund health facilities that address smoking related diseases.

Some governments also consider that taxation and the growth of illicit trade has the potential to drive away investors and entrepreneurs, who wish to enter the market and create employment opportunities, further impacting government income and the economy.

Therefore, RELX International calls on authorities’ to take a measured and risk-proportionate approach to the taxation of e-cigarette products, whereby the most harmful forms of consuming nicotine (combustible cigarettes) are the most taxed, while less harmful alternatives are favourably taxed to support the switch to them. This way, adult consumers can continue to have the option of better, accessibly priced alternatives to tobacco products.

RELX International

Founded in 2019, RELX International is a multinational electronic cigarettes company that markets and sells RELX, The World’s Advanced vape brand powered by SuperSmoothTM technology. RELX, Asia’s leading e-cigarette brand, is widening its footprint across the world, it is currently available in 40+ countries such as the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Indonesia, Philippines, Canada, KSA and the UAE. What sets RELX apart from competition is the fact that it has a full ecosystem (such as closed pods, disposables, device, and power bank accessories) that are designed at a cutting-edge research and development center and produced at one of the world’s largest e-cigarette factories. RELX’s mission is to make RELX a trusted brand for legal age adult smokers through state-of-the-art products, industry-leading technologies, and scientific advances in collaboration with talented and committed people around the globe. The company has attracted global talents from Uber, Procter & Gamble, Apple, Beats, and L’Oréal. RELX is proud to be listed in Dubai Duty Free, the first duty free channel in the world.

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