Tobacco tax rise is a missed opportunity and falls short of optimum increase

Wednesday 20 March 2013

The 2% rise in tobacco duty falls far short of the 5% above inflation rise demanded by ASH and other health organisations. [1]

Campaigners warn that the increase may not be enough to stop smokers shifting to hand-rolled tobacco or cheaper brands of cigarettes and may not meet the Government’s ambition to ensure the price of tobacco is sufficiently high to reduce smoking rates. [2]

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH said:
“This is disappointing. If the government had increased tobacco tax by 5% as we requested it would have increased Government revenues and helped more smokers to quit smoking. Cigarettes are still more affordable than they were in the 1960s and there is a danger that smokers will simply trade down to cheaper brands rather than stop smoking.

It’s now more vital than ever that the Government introduces legislation to put all tobacco products in standard packs to reduce the number of children becoming addicted to this lethal habit every day.”


[1] A submission to the Treasury in advance of the Budget by ASH and the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (UKCTCS), endorsed by 87 health organisations, had urged the Chancellor to increase the tobacco tax escalator to 5% above inflation (equivalent to about 2p per cigarette) in order to reduce smoking while at the same time raise much needed revenue.
The submission is available at:

[2] In the Tobacco Control Plan for England, the government pledged to “follow a policy of using tax to maintain the high price of tobacco products at levels that have an impact on smoking prevalence”. (p24)