Call for tax hike on cigarettes

Campaigners are calling on Chancellor George Osborne to increase the tobacco

Campaigners are calling on Chancellor George Osborne to increase the tobacco "tax escalator" from 2% to 5% above inflation year on year

First published in Gwent news

MORE than 100,000 people would quit smoking in one year alone if the Chancellor increased the tax on cigarettes to 5% above inflation, according to 80 leading health charities and experts.

In a report released ahead of next week's Budget, campaigners are calling on Chancellor George Osborne to increase the tobacco "tax escalator" from 2% to 5% above inflation year on year.

The move would net the Government an extra £485 million in the first year and £7.4 billion over the next five years, it said.

Furthermore, it said the number of smokers would fall by 104,000 in the first year, with a reduction in deaths from smoking of 479.

A 15% rise above inflation for hand-rolled tobacco would lead to even more lives saved, far fewer smokers and further revenue, it added.

The report, from the charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, is backed by NHS groups of doctors, directors of public health, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and the Royal College of Physicians.

Charities including the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Cancer Research UK, and the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation also back the study.

The report calls for a reduction in the " growing price differential between the most expensive and cheapest cigarettes to discourage down-trading".

And it says there needs to be stronger support for new laws to introduce plain, standardised tobacco packaging, and asks for an u pdate on the Government's anti-smuggling strategy.

It comes as a poll of more than 2,000 former smokers for the BHF found 42% believed raising the tax on tobacco would help other smokers quit.

Over two in five (43%) said GPs should approach the subject more often with smokers during routine appointments, while 35% called for more information about local stop-smoking services.

Nearly a third (30%) said reducing the number of smoking scenes in TV programmes and films would help people quit, while 34% wanted more information in gyms, offices and leisure centres.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, said: "Raising the price of tobacco through taxation is the most effective way of reducing smoking and saving lives.

"Increasing taxes is a win-win for government - it raises much-needed revenue and encourages smokers to quit a deadly addiction. That is why we are calling on the Chancellor to be bold and raise the tax by 5% above inflation to further motivate smokers to quit."

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, said: "This is not about nanny state intervention. This is about a practical measure that saves lives - and one that people who've managed to break their addiction to tobacco say will help.

"We know two-thirds of smokers want to quit and more than a million of them will try to do just that today - No Smoking Day.

"We hope their voice and their efforts will not go unnoticed by ministers, who also have 'big tobacco' whispering in their ear."

Anna Gilmore, professor of public health at the University of Bath and researcher at the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said: "Tobacco companies constantly complain about tax rises while at the same time quietly increasing prices and amassing huge profits from the sale of a product that kills half their long-term customers.

"This shows there is scope for raising tobacco tax. Increasing taxes not only helps smokers to quit but also deters children from starting a life-long addiction."

Comments (3)

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5:40pm Wed 12 Mar 14

southsea says...

if all these people stop smoking where is chancellor going to make up the shortfall in tax revenue, smoking brings in billions in tax each year and yes i am an x smoker.
if all these people stop smoking where is chancellor going to make up the shortfall in tax revenue, smoking brings in billions in tax each year and yes i am an x smoker. southsea
  • Score: 4

7:22pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Mervyn James says...

Your logic suggests drinking and smoking is a necessity for tax purposes. But both can lead to an early death, and huge Health resources taken up. what we lose in tax we gain in better health. Death and Taxes are inevitable, but why pander to it ? I cannot see how anyone would justify it to keep the tax man happy.
Your logic suggests drinking and smoking is a necessity for tax purposes. But both can lead to an early death, and huge Health resources taken up. what we lose in tax we gain in better health. Death and Taxes are inevitable, but why pander to it ? I cannot see how anyone would justify it to keep the tax man happy. Mervyn James
  • Score: 1

2:36pm Thu 13 Mar 14

Fattman says...

Where do they pluck these figures from?? Increasing tax will not stop people smoking, it will just remove more money from their pocket and placed into the chancellors. Thinking about the amount of money smokers have to pay already I cant see how they can justify a further increase. If people actually stopped smoking the UK would be shafted through lost revenue, taxes would then just be increased on other products.
Where do they pluck these figures from?? Increasing tax will not stop people smoking, it will just remove more money from their pocket and placed into the chancellors. Thinking about the amount of money smokers have to pay already I cant see how they can justify a further increase. If people actually stopped smoking the UK would be shafted through lost revenue, taxes would then just be increased on other products. Fattman
  • Score: 1

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