Vapouround magazine VAPOUROUND MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE19 - Page 71

When the tax came into force on July 12, imports were held by customs with officials only releasing consignments once the new tax had been paid. buyers and sellers from all over the region and wider world, including Europe, India, Pakistan and South Africa. It’s still a big market with a bright future.” Shop owners had been given no chance to negotiate its terms, nor consult with the authorities and many fear the huge price hike will encourage many vapers to return to smoking. Mr Mohamed also shared some additional insight into how the tax has gone down and what was being done about it. The price of a 60ml bottle of e-liquid - the most popular kind in Bahrain - has doubled overnight from six Bahraini dinar to 12. E-liquids are part of the new sin tax as vaping products have been classified as “harmful to human health and to the environment.” Bahraini vape shop owner Said Al Wadei said: “It makes no sense to charge tax at 100 percent on the retail price of vape juice. “Most of the stores import more than 40,000 different vape juice bottles every month, mainly from the US, and you can do the maths to know how much excise tax they now have to pay for each consignment.” Now vaping advocacy groups in Bahrain have formed an anti- vape tax movement using the hashtag #Bahrain_Vape_Is_ Not_Tobacco. However, despite the new tax it has been confirmed that the inaugural Middle East Vape Show (MEVS) in Bahrain will proceed as planned for next January. “It’s a tax on e-liquids specifically, it doesn’t cover any other products. It was announced and implemented on the same day, so suddenly even some government officials were confused. Products which were going through customs were kept in holding and many still haven’t been claimed.” On July 30, representatives of vaping businesses met with government ministers from the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry to plead their case. The hearing was chaired by department head Minister Zayed Alzayani. Mr Mohamed said: “During the talks, business owners brought forward evidence in favour of vaping taken from studies in the UK. “This is the beginning of a new era of regulation. We’re prepared to accept taxation but the very clear message from vape industry is that a 100 percent tax on e-liquids is not workable or realistic.” He said the move was an “imperfect start” to a new regulatory environment where further reform would undoubtedly happen. The expo’s co-organiser Khalid Mohamed said that the MEVS was exempt from the tax. Hussain Zaimoor, who owns two outlets of the Bahrain Vape Club, fears the new tax could threaten the kingdom’s status as a vape distribution hub for the region. He told Vapouround: “All exhibitors’ products will be tax free. And it’s important to remember that this is the Middle East Vape Show – not the Bahrain vape show. We’ll have VIP He said: “Vape is the fastest growing segment globally and Bahrain is the distribution centre for e-juices to Gulf states, but now – with this tax – we are in a dilemma.” “WE ARE IN A DILEMMA” VM19 | 71