Chancellor urged to increase tobacco tax & ignore tobacco industry smokescreen

Monday 01 March 1999

ASH/ Press releases/


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Press release1st March 1999 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health

Chancellor urged to increase tobacco tax and ignore industry smuggling smokescreen

ASH and 23 other health organisations [1] arecalling on the Chancellor to add 24 pence to a pack of 20 cigarettes in the Budget nextweek.  This single measure could reduce avoidable premature deaths by around 1,200 ayear.

In a submission to HM Treasury, ASH argues thattobacco taxes should continue to rise well ahead of the rate of inflation.  CliveBates, Director of ASH, said: “This is good health and fiscal policy.  Cigarettes are still more affordable than in the 1960s, and very sharp increases areneeded even to keep pace with growth in incomes.  Unless the Government continues toraise tobacco taxes, it will fail to reach the smoking reduction targets as set out in theWhite Paper on tobacco.”

ASH believes that the Tobacco Manufacturers’Association’s call for a reduction in tobacco tax as a means of reducing tobacco smugglingwould be disastrous.  If adopted, this approach would cause a precipitous decline intax revenues, which would need to be replaced from other taxes, and a sharp increase incigarette consumption, which would lead to more ill-health.   Clive Bates, said:”In our view, reversal of a well founded health and fiscal policy because ofsmuggling would be an inexcusable capitulation to criminal activity.   Smuggling is alaw and order issue, and the correct way to deal with it is to increase the chance ofbeing caught and prosecuted, and to increase the penalties faced by smugglers.”



[1] “Tobacco tax in the 1999 Budget”has been endorsed by ASH, the British Medical Association, Health Education Authority andNational Heart Forum, and 20 other health, welfare and medical organisations.



Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902

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