News Friday March 9, 2012

Smokers’ lobbyists contest proposed increase on cigarette tax

Smokers lobby groups are contesting new cigarette tax on the basis that it could make it more likely that people would try and attempt to get cigarettes illegally through smuggling and that they would rather see a reduction in tax.

Last year a proposed 5% increase in tax on tobacco was rejected by Chancellor Osborne, however campaigners and 91 other organisations argue that the current 2% increase in tax, even though above inflation, wasn’t enough. They are also calling for increased duty on tobacco for rolling cigarettes to stop people from rolling their cigarettes to save money.

Charities are of the opinion that smoking is now proportionately more affordable, when looking at people’s disposable income than it was in the early years of smoking when people weren’t even aware of the dangers of smoking.

Prof John Britton, director of the UKCTCS (UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies) said that price is one of the best ways to get people to give up smoking, however Simon Clark, from Forest, a smokers’ special interest group believes that increasing tax to 5%, could potentially cause economic issues and an increase the number of counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes.

To further their argument, tobacco companies are complaining that the new proposed law to standardise cigarette packaging could also increase the risk of counterfeit cigarettes, but anti-smoking charities feel that the industry is ‘clutching at straws’.

With governments starting to weight up the costs of smoking related illnesses compared to the economic benefits of the tobacco industry, it may mean that more governments will take drastic steps to minimise smoking within their populations.

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