Chancellor Jeremy Hunt raised the U.K. tobacco duty in his spring budget, reports The Independent. A 20-pack of cigarettes will now cost more than £14 ($16.86).
The cigarette tax increased by 10.1 percent in line with the retail price index plus an additional 2 percent.
Hand-rolling tobacco will increase by 10.1 percent plus an additional 6 percent.
Smokers-rights activists were aghast.
“Punishing smokers for their habit during a cost-of-living crisis is heartless and cruel,” said Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ campaign group Forest. “It discriminates against poorer smokers and will drive many more consumers to the black market.
“This is bad news for legitimate, law-abiding retailers and bad news for the Treasury, which could lose billions of pounds in revenue if more smokers buy their tobacco from illicit traders.”
The last cigarette price increase was in October 2021.
The price increase is part of the effort to make the U.K. smoke-free by 2030.
Alcohol taxes are also set to increase with inflation.