Tobacco policy

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6938.1241b (Published 07 May 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1241

Punitive taxes won't cut consumption

  1. Ben Walsh
  1. Tobacco Manufacturers Association, London SW1E 5AG
  2. Institute of General Practice, Postgraduate Medical School, Exeter EX2 5DW.

    EDITOR, - The non-response of ASH's spokesman, Stephen Woodward,1 to Poor Smokers, the recent report from the Institute of Policy Studies,2 neatly encapsulates the antismoking lobby's dilemma on tobacco taxation.

    Is it right that around 20% of Britain's poorest smoking households pay more income tax than tobacco tax, making tobacco one of the most regressive of all central government taxes? For many poorer smokers, a cigarette at the end of a long hard day represents a small but welcome luxury, but the price they pay for that luxury is excessively high, thanks to the government's punitive treatment for tobacco tax in recent years.

    Tobacco taxes in the United Kingdom are almost the highest in the European Union; 76.5% of the price of a pack of 20 goes to the Treasury. Smokers pay a massive pounds sterling 24 million every day in tobacco taxes, enough to pay for any one of the armed services or nearly all the annual police …

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