Budget: Chancellor urged to raise tobacco taxes – a call echoed by ex-smokers

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Health campaigners and academic experts are marking this year’s No Smoking Day by calling on the Chancellor to raise the tax on cigarettes by 5% above inflation in next week’s Budget. [1] This coincides with research released today by the British Heart Foundation showing that nearly half (42%) of ex-smokers said that raising the tax on tobacco would help other smokers to quit. [2]

In a submission endorsed by 80 health and welfare organisations as well as Directors of Public Health, ASH and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies are calling for the following measures:

  • Introduce a tobacco tax escalator of 5% above inflation for this and subsequent years.
  • Reduce the growing price differential between the most expensive and cheapest cigarettes to discourage down-trading
  • Increase the tax on hand-rolled tobacco (HRT) by introducing a larger tax escalator of 15% above inflation until tax on HRT is equivalent to that on manufactured cigarettes.
  • Support the development of regulations to introduce plain, standardised packaging of tobacco packs.
  • Update the Government’s anti-smuggling strategy

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“Raising the price of tobacco through taxation is the most effective way of reducing smoking and saving lives. Increasing taxes is a win-win for Government: it raises much needed revenue and encourages smokers to quit a deadly addiction. That is why we are calling on the Chancellor to be bold and raise the tax by 5% above inflation to further motivate smokers to quit.”
Anna Gilmore, Professor of public health at the University of Bath and UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said:

“Tobacco companies constantly complain about tax rises while at the same time quietly increasing prices and amassing huge profits from the sale of a product that kills half their long-term customers. This shows there is scope for raising tobacco tax. Increasing taxes not only helps smokers to quit but also deters children from starting a life-long addiction.”


Notes and Links:

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use.
For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash

The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies is a network of 13 universities (12 in UK, 1 in New Zealand) funded by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration. The UKCTAS is a leading international centre of tobacco and alcohol research and policy excellence with an extensive research programme.

[1] UKCTAS/ASH. 2014 Budget submission to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, available at:

[2] Today – Wednesday 12th March – is No Smoking Day, an event managed by the British Heart Foundation. See: www.nosmokingday.org.uk for further information.