ASH Budget reaction: Tax reduction on stop smoking products will increase quitting prospects.

Wednesday 21 March 2007

ASH news release:  For immediate release: Wednesday 21 March 2007


ASH Budget reaction:  Tax reduction on stop smoking products will increase quitting prospects

The Chancellor’s decision to reduce VAT on stop smoking aids such as nicotine patches and gum to the lowest level has been welcomed by ASH. This surprise move means that many more smokers, particularly those on low income, will now be able to afford to use the aids for longer, thereby increasing their chances of successfully stopping smoking. However, the reduction in VAT should be sustained permanently.


Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:


“One in five smokers say they’ll try to quit in the run up to the introduction of the smoking ban in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Using nicotine products  can double their chances of success but we know the cost puts many smokers off. Reducing the price of will encourage many more smokers to use these products so making it more likely they can successfully quit. We congratulate the government on making this budget a quitters’ budget but one year’s reduction in the price of NRT is not enough. It should be sustained permanently..”


Despite the welcome move on the stop smoking aids, ASH is disappointed that the Chancellor missed a  golden opportunity to raise the tax on tobacco above the rate of inflation.  In its Budget submission, ASH had called for a 19p increase on a pack of 20 cigarettes – equivalent to a 3% increase above the inflation rate. [1]  Research shows that increases in tobacco tax are popular if the money raised is used to help people stop smoking. [2] Unfortunately, the inflation-only increase means that tobacco risks becoming more affordable. If this  happens, consumption is likely to increase, thus leading to more illness and premature death.



Notes and links:

[1] Budget 2007: Tobacco tax submission on behalf of ASH and 19 other UK health organisations


[2] West R (2006) Public support for a tobacco levy. There is widespread support in England for the idea of putting 20p on a packet of cigarettes with the funds being used exclusively to fund tobacco control; 78% of the adult population is in favour of the idea including 54% of those in Social Grade E (‘unemployed, on state benefit and lowest grade workers’) who had smoked in the past year and 52% of these who were smoking at the time of the survey.


Contact: Deborah Arnott  020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available


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