Tobacco policy Combine taxation with other measures

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6946.59 (Published 02 July 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:59
  1. G Waldron,
  2. J W T Chalmers
  1. Department of Public Health Medicine, Dumfries and Galloway Health Board, Dumfries DG1 2SD
  2. Accident and Emergency Department, Hairmyers Hospital, East Kilbride, Glasgow
  3. St Francis Hospital, P/Bag 11, Katete, Zambia.

    EDITOR, - The concern of Ben Walsh, of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, for the income of poorer smokers would be touching if it did not expose the hypocrisy of his employers.1 The “antismoking world” may indeed be indirectly responsible for reducing the wealth of smokers through its advocacy of increased taxation, but Walsh ignores the fact that tobacco manufacturers are directly to blame for most of the preventable deaths and chronic ill health among their customers.

    Walsh's rosy picture of a poor smoker relaxing with “a cigarette at the end of a long hard day” belies the addictive property on which the success of his product depends. Few smokers can limit themselves to one cigarette a day. If they could, tobacco would be a luxury rather tan a necessity, in which case price would be of little importance.

    The tobacco industry has hitherto been relatively silent on the subject of taxation. We suspect that the real reason why it is now so concerned has more to do with the fear of loss of revenue to its counterparts in Europe than with any wish to give to poor people. The appropriate response of the government to such concerns must be to use its influence …

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