The new Iqos cigarette taxed with a 50% discount, a tailor-made tax that makes it the same as the less harmful e-cigs. The new product can actually also be smoked like a traditional cigarette. But they are making it pass for an electronic cigarettes.
A huge gift for Philip Morris. There is nothing that can be done about it, the constant activity of the tobacco company’s lobby was able to achieve a significant and important goal by the end of 2014. Everything was done thanks to the “precious” help of Renzi’s Government and the Monopoly Agency. But what exactly are we talking about? We can start, for instance, with the 50% discount of the excise tax for the Iqos, the so called “hybrid” cigarettes, produced by Philip Morris. It was highly bureaucratic the way this “trick” was carried out. The means was the legislative decree, which reorganized the excise tax, number 188/2014, published on the Official Gazette on the 23rd of December, on Christmas Eve.
THE STEPS. The provision introduced the new category of “inhalation tobacco products without combustion.” Without wasting too much time, this definition was made to fit the Iqos. Why? Because the words “without combustion” mean less harmful. And the fact that they are less harmful implies an excise tax 50% less than the excise tax for the traditional cigarettes. For example, this is the principle that was applied to the electronic cigarettes. Nevertheless, like in all the legislative texts, the devil is in the details. A first version of the legislative decree, in fact, explained that “inhalation tobacco products without combustion are considered those tobacco products not to be smoked and that can be used without a combustion process.” In another draft, in October, the part “can be used without a combustion process” was removed, but then it was put back in in the final version of the decree, which was published in the Official Gazette on the 23th of December 2014.
THE ISSUE. Saying that heat no burn tobacco, like the Iquos by Philip Morris “can be used without a combustion process” means opening the way to giving the e-cig an equivalent application of the 50% tax discount. However, why should we use the term “can” instead of “must”? Although a real conflict is raging on this point, it would seem that the Iquos can also be considered smoke through combustion. The fact is that the passage in the decree seems to be tailor-made for Philip Morris. In exchange for the favor, they have promised to open a factory near Bologna to produce the crossbred cigarettes, with an investment of 500 million and 600 jobs. The ready-made gift in the decree, however also has other consequences. For example the lack of health information on the product’s package that could be smoked in the traditional manner, which means with the more harmful combustion. Who knows if the Minister of Health, Beatrice Lorenzin, who would want to limit smoking in public parks and in films, is aware of what the government she is a part of has just approved.
THE MEN. The operation is obviously triggering the rage of the electronic cigarette sector as it feels punished. Recently Anide, the Italian National Association of e-cig, has written an angry letter to the State Monopoly. It would seem that Canio Zarrilli, responsible for the tobacco circulation office of the Monopoly, is one of the main authors of the law being disputed. But Philip Morris’s lobby, led in Italy by the CEO Eugenio Sidoli, would have also found a simpathetic ear from Vieri Ceriani, Padoan’s adviser and undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance.