Cigarette tax rise: don’t let good health & tax policy be diverted by smugglers

Monday 30 November 1998

ASH/ Press releases/


102 CliftonStreet, London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press release30th November 1998
Action on Smoking
and Health

Cigarette tax rise – don’t let good health and tax policy be diverted by smugglers

ASH welcomed the 20 pence increase in cigarette prices due to come into effect tomorrow(1st December).  The increase was announced in the March budget.

“This is sensible and effective tax and health policy” said Clive Bates,Director of ASH.  “Higher taxes on cigarettes are far better than higher taxeson jobs or investment, and when cigarette prices go up, people respond by giving up,cutting down or never starting.  Thousands of lives are saved by this approach.”

ASH criticised the tobacco industry campaign to use the problem of smuggling to pressfor lower cigarette taxes.

ASH argues that smuggling is good news for the tobacco industry: they still sell thesmuggled cigarettes to wholesalers; cheap cigarettes come onto the market and help to keeppeople smoking that might otherwise quit; and, most importantly, they can call for lowerprices in the legal cigarette market.  If they are successful and prices in the legalmarket fall, then consumption and profits will rise.

“Smuggling is the perfect weapon of the tobacco lobby” said Bates.  “but if they get their way, then more people will smoke and more people will sufferan untimely death as a result.”

ASH demanded more Customs & Excise and police action against smuggling:

“Tobacco smuggling is serious, but it is a law and order issue.  We believethat the best way to deal with smuggling is not to cave in to criminal activity and lowertaxes, but to have better enforcement of the law and stiffer penalties for those that arecaught” said Clive Bates.

“It is much better to deter smugglers with the threat of being caught and a facingserious penalty, than to try to solve the problem by reversing tax policy.”


Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Amanda Sandford (020) 7739 5902 or 0181 257 3501 (hm)

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