Tory U-turn on tobacco tax would spell disaster for public health

Tuesday 04 May 1999

ASH/ Press releases/


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Press release
4th May 1999
Action on Smoking
and Health

Tory U-turn on tobacco tax would spelldisaster for public health

Commenting on the Conservative call for a freeze on tobacco tax, Clive Bates, Directorof ASH, said: “It is very disappointing that theConservatives have swallowed the tobacco industry line on tobacco tax. This apparentU-turn on tobacco policy would spell disaster for public health if it wereimplemented.”

Bates added: “It was a Conservative governmentthat made the commitment to consistently raise tobacco tax above the rate of inflation.They are now arguing that it has gone too far but we think it has not gone farenough.”

While acknowledging that there has been a rise in cigarette smuggling in recent years,ASH believes that the way to tackle this is not by abandoning a sound health and fiscalpolicy but by treating it as a law and order issue. Measures such as better deployment ofcustoms staff and the addition of tax stamps to show that duty has been paid, should beused to counter the illegal trade.

Clive Bates said: “We think theGovernment’s approach is absolutely right.  It makes sense to increase taxes onthings that are harmful such as tobacco rather than from jobs and investment.  Raising tobacco tax is also a very good health policy because it encourages peopleto give up smoking or not to start.  If tobacco tax was frozen or reduced this wouldlead to a rise in smoking and further misery and suffering from smoking-induced illnessesand premature death.”

The tax submission can be found on ASH’swebsite: <ahref=”http:”” papers=”” budget99.html”=””>



Contact Clive Bates, ASH Director (020) 7739 5902

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