Let's take an example : if tomorrow the price of a litre of water from your tap was twice as expensive as a bottle of vodka, what would your reaction be ?

You would think it stupid that a product that's harmful to your health could be cheaper than a product that's renowned for its virtues. That's called common sense...

But that's what the National Council has just done following the debates on the Tobacco Tax Act (TTA) on 8 June 2023.

The decision to tax vaping products heavily and to make electronic cigarettes financially unattractive will, according to the communicating vessels principle, lead many vapers to switch back to cigarettes, or contribute to the development of parallel markets.

We're talking about a tax of 20cts per ml for nicotine-containing e-liquids and 1CHF per ml for puffs. Harmless ? No, if you're talking about an open system, you must add the price of the device, the cartridges and the coils that need changing, and that adds up considerably.

The National Council sees the heavy taxation of puffs as being justified by a desire to use the financial argument to lure young people away from the temptation of vaping. This overlooks the primary aim of vaping : to help people quit smoking. Could this differentiated taxation be designed to compensate for poor supervision of sales to minors or overly easy access to Internet sales ?

At Sweetch, we've made it a given that young people shouldn't have access to vape products, as have most professionals in the sector.

So, is this patent stupidity ? Background work by tobacco lobbyists ? Influence from the WHO ? Or simply the naivety of out-of-touch associations and elected representatives ?


Let's talk figures. In Switzerland, a quarter of the population smokes, i.e. almost 2 million people, with 9,500 tobacco-related deaths every year.

According to the Swiss government's website, "tobacco costs the Swiss economy almost CHF 3.9 billion each year, of which CHF 3 billion is used to finance medical treatment and CHF 0.9 billion to compensate for loss of earnings".

Apparently that doesn't seem enough to put in place an effective anti-smoking strategy that reconciles economic and public health concerns.

According to scientific studies, vaping is now considered to be 95% less harmful than conventional smoking, and 3% of the Swiss population have already switched to electronic cigarettes. So many cardiovascular diseases and cancers avoided.

A quick reminder of what's known on the subject : yes, nicotine is highly addictive, but as a first step towards quitting smoking, the aim is to keep smokers away from the carcinogens contained in tobacco, which are responsible for illness and death.

The electronic cigarette remains a transitional means of gradually giving up nicotine altogether.

Vape e-cig safer quit smoking

The idea of taxing only nicotined e-liquids to encourage smokers to use only non-nicotined liquids is heresy in terms of the long-term effectiveness of smoking cessation. We now know that successfully giving up smoking can only be achieved with a satisfactory level of nicotine at the start, to compensate for the smoker's cravings and not tempt him or her to seek cigarettes. Later, the nicotine level can be reduced until it is eliminated, or eventually the e-cig is completely stopped.

The best European example of success is the United Kingdom and its public anti-smoking policy, which focuses primarily on electronic cigarettes, with information campaigns and medical prescriptions. And why ? Because it works, of course !


The point here is not to praise the electronic cigarette, but to reiterate the arguments used in the report of the bill itself.

The rapport acknowledges the benefits of e-cigarettes in the process of quitting smoking.

e-cigarette tax EU CH vaping

Let's take the example of our Italian neighbour. The introduction of a tax on vaping led to the development of contraband and the almost total disappearance of a legal vaping market. The Italian government reacted by lowering the tax rate by 80% compared to the initial rate, to prevent the economic collapse of tax revenues that had become anecdotal. Portugal has followed the same trajectory.

Faced with the boom of the black market, Estonia has even dropped taxation altogether.

All this information about the situation in our neighbours is objectively detailed in the report by the National Council, which is perfectly aware that we are heading for disaster, but which no doubt believes that the same causes will not produce the same effects in Switzerland.

In theory : the Confederation hopes to generate CHF 13.8 million in revenue from this tax.

The reality : Let's take the case of French-speaking Switzerland on the border with France, where taxation does not exist. Vapers who haven't turned back to tobacco will be happy to go shopping in neighbouring France at lower cost. In more remote regions, the black market and unregulated Internet sales will increase.

To sum up : the Confederation will only receive a few crumbs from the tax system, which will not be used by the AHV to compensate for the explosion in the number of smokers and the illnesses caused by smoking.


The GREA (Groupement Romand d'Etudes des Addictions) reacted strongly to the National Council's vote, rightly expressing its dismay at the announced regression in the fight against smoking, especially when we consider that heating tobacco, which is much more harmful but distributed by Big Tobacco, escapes a re-evaluation of its taxes, and becomes cheaper than vaping.

The National Council's own rapport does not seem very optimistic in his conclusion, stating that : "It is difficult to assess at present to what extent the tax will actually have an overall impact on consumer purchasing behaviour. However, we can assume that more e-liquids will be ordered online or purchased abroad."

Once again, we're fooling ourselves, and tobacco still has a bright future ahead !

Vaping Stop cigarettes big tobacco