UK campaigners have responded with anger to the announcement of another increase in tobacco duty.
“This is the second increase this year,” said Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest. “Tobacco duty is already punitively high. A further tax hike discriminates against smokers who are less well off. Once again the poor are being sacrificed on the altar of public health.
“The prime minister famously said her government wanted to help those who are just about managing. Instead of helping, the chancellor will push more people into poverty unless they quit smoking or turn to the black market.
“Thanks to the chancellor more and more smokers will buy illicit tobacco at home or purchase their tobacco abroad. The loss of revenue to the treasury will far outweigh any health benefits to the nation.”
Meanwhile, the director general of the UK’s Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, Giles Roca, said there had been, in effect, three tobacco-price increases already this year: that caused by a March-budget increase, that caused by a ban on small packs and that caused by the introduction of a minimum excise tax.
“Today’s [Wednesday’s] announcement will simply lose taxpayers money, push ever more smokers to avoid paying UK duty and boost the black market and the criminal gangs that operate it,” said Roca.
“The most effective way to get smokers to quit is not high tax but the development of new products such as e-cigarettes.
“Also, such an increase, just before the crucial Christmas trading period, will significantly impact on retailers including many corner shops for whom tobacco makes up around 35 percent of their business.”