Lower tax rise than health groups had hoped
Commenting on the Chancellor’s decision today to raise cigarette duty 2% above inflation, Professor Anna Gilmore from the University of Bath’s Tobacco Control Research Group and UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies said:
"2% above inflation is significantly lower than health groups had hoped for. We know from our research that the tobacco companies will now take the opportunity of hiking up the prices of their premium brands on top of this tax rise and pretending this price increase is all down to George Osborne. More importantly the government has done nothing to reduce the price gap between cigarettes and the considerably cheaper hand-rolled tobacco, even though cheaper hand-rolled tobacco, through virtue of its cheaper price, is being increasingly used by young people. "I hope the government was not scared off increasing taxes further by the tobacco industry's hot air over illicit tobacco. For years it has argued that tax increases will increase illicit, yet each year taxes go up and illicit goes down. The biggest problem with illicit is the tobacco companies failing to control their supply chain and that has nothing to do with price. The industry's data on illicit completely exaggerate the problem and its arguments that plain packaging will increase illicit have just been blown out of the water by new government data in Australia."