Cigarette taxes and smoking bans are fair & sensible: smokers don’t have equal rights!

Tuesday 08 September 1998

ASH/ Press releases/


16 Fitzhardinge Street,London W1H 9PL Tel: 0171 224 0743 Fax: 0171 224 0471

Press release8th September 1998 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health

Cigarette taxes and smoking bans are fair and sensible – smokers don’t have equalrights

The Fair Cigarette Tax Campaign, a tobacco industry front group, is launching anoffensive on 9th September. It wants “equal rights for the UK’s 15 million smokersand a reverse in the trend of smoking bans in public places”. It has done a survey ofsmokers showing that one in three would boycott the pub if they weren’t allowed to smoke,and one in four would boycott their favourite restaurant. (This is quite low when youconsider that less than one in three adults are smokers.)

The basic message of the Fair Cigarette Tax Campaign is that:

  • Smokers have as much right to smoke as non-smokers have NOT to smoke
  • Cigarette taxes are unfair on them – they pay £11 billion per year
  • Restaurants say they would lose 20% if smoking was banned
  • Smokers spend more in pubs
  • Despite their tax contribution, smokers are treated like second class citizens

In response, ASH says:

  • What about equal rights to clean air? The smoker makes the intrusion, not the non-smoker
  • What about the rights of workers in smokey places? What about the UK’s 3.5 million asthmatics that may be entirely excluded from pubs and restaurants?
  • Few people are seriously suggesting a wholesale ban on smoking in all pubs and restaurants it is just that the 72% that don’t smoke should be able to participate in British social life without having to breathe other people’s smoke. The idea is to give non-smokers adequate choice – not to ban all smoking. Much could be done by segregating smoking areas.
  • It makes sense to raise tax from things that harm rather than from jobs and investment.
  • Tobacco taxes save lives – a 10% increase in real price reduces consumption by about 5% as people give up, cut down or never start. That would mean that 4 billion less cigarettes would be smoked in the UK each year – and by the time that worked through to health gains (ie. over the long term), about 4,000 premature deaths would be avoided each year.
  • Smuggling is a problem but the Fair Cig Tax Campaign would rather the Government caved in to criminals and reduced taxes – an important health and fiscal measure – rather than tackled the real problem with tax stamps and improved enforcement of the law.
  • High taxes place a burden on the poorest smokers, and this means the Government is morally obliged to do everything possible to give these smokers the opportunity and resources to quit. For those that do, there are significant welfare gains.
  • The Fair Cig Tax Campaign has little to say about the ex-smokers who benefit from high taxes and bans on smoking in public places because these measures encouraged them to quit.




Contact Clive Bates, Director 0171 224 0743 or 0181 800 1336 (hm), 0468 791237 (mbl best on Sun.)
Amanda Sandford, Communications Director 0171 224 0743 or 0181 257 3501 (hm)

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