Rumoured plans for a tax on vape liquid have been criticised.

The Times has reported that the government is considering the introduction of a levy on vape liquid in next week’s Budget.

According to reports, there would be higher tax rates depending on the amount of nicotine in the product, and that the new levy would help raise up to £500m.

This comes after the government announced plans to ban the sale of single-use vapes to curb underage usage and address sustainability issues.

Director general of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), John Dunne, said the plans make “no sense”.

“Surely we should be doing everything we can to help smokers escape a habit that kills so many. Increasing taxes on vaping will make vapes less accessible for the most disadvantaged in society who have the highest smoking rates and are most in need of an effective tool to quit,” said Dunne.

“The Government continue to hide their heads in the sand, while taking actions that will fuel a black market which is already in danger of being out of control. Restricting access to vapes will not only mean more smokers, it will also mean more illegal and unregulated vapes. We need the Government to license vape retailers and properly enforce the law against youth access before it is too late.”

The UKVIA introduced proposals for a licensing scheme for vape retailers earlier this month.

Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “The government’s approach to vaping has become an incoherent mess. It says it wants to clamp down on disposable vapes and yet it is going to tax refillable e-cigarette liquid. It is giving away e-cigarettes for free with its Swap to Stop scheme while making vaping less affordable for those who are prepared to pay. It says it wants to lower the tax burden but seems happy to tax smoking cessation.

“We know what happens when e-cigarettes are taxed. The evidence from other countries shows that it leads to more cigarette sales and more smoking. When you have two substitute products, discouraging the use of one amounts to encouraging the use of the other. Anti-vaping policies are essentially pro-smoking policies.”

Suppliers also expressed concern about the rumoured plans.

Evapo CEO Andrej Kuttruf, said “a tax increase would pour petrol on the flames of the already flourishing black market” and “should only come with a big step up in efforts to tackle the black market through increased border controls to stop illicit and untaxed products coming in”.