ASH welcomes announcement on new government anti-smuggling strategy but tax rise not high enough.

Thursday 13 March 2008

ASH welcomed the announcement following today’s Budget that the new UK Border Agency will publish a comprehensive tobacco smuggling strategy. This is one of the key points raised by ASH when the charity met with the Treasury Minister, Angela Eagle, earlier this year on behalf of 22 public health organisations. [1]

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

“Substantially reducing tobacco smuggling must be a key plank of any policy to tackle health inequalities as research shows that low income smokers are much more likely to buy smuggled tobacco. This announcement is encouraging and we hope that the new strategy will be implemented as quickly as possible.”

ASH is also pleased that the Chancellor agreed to maintain the reduced rate of VAT on nicotine replacement therapies that was introduced in last year’s Budget as this is a proven method of helping people to quit. (The tax was reduced in July 2007 from 17.5% to 5% as an incentive to increase uptake)

However, ASH criticised the Government for not substantially raising tobacco tax above the inflation rate. Not only is this a proven method of reducing the amount of cigarettes smoked but it is also a popular measure. According to a recent opinion poll [2] 61% of respondents favoured a rise in tobacco tax above the rate of inflation. Furthermore, 44% of respondents said they would strongly support a tax rise of 20p per pack if the money raised was used to prevent young people from taking up smoking and to help people stop smoking. An additional 20% said they tended to support such a move.


Notes and links:
Notes to Editors:

[1] The submission to the Treasury was made on behalf of the following health organisations:
ASH Northern Ireland
ASH Scotland
ASH Wales
British Heart Foundation
British Lung Foundation
British Thoracic Society
Cancer Research UK
Fresh Smoke Free North East
National Heart Forum
No Smoking Day
Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Physicians
Royal Society of Health
Smoke Free Liverpool
Stroke Association Wales
Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre
Ulster Cancer Foundation
World Cancer Research Fund

[2] The survey, conducted by YouGov Plc for Action on Smoking and Health, was carried out between 20th and 22nd February 2008. Total sample size was 3,329 adults. The results have been weighted and are representative of all British adults (aged 18 ).