The Chancellor has indicated that cigarette duty is to rise by 2% above inflation, but campaigners are calling for a more substantial increase of 5% above inflation.
Campaign groups argue that despite the rise in the cost of cigarettes, they are now more affordable than they were in the 1960s when the health impacts of smoking first became known.
Although the cost of smoking has gone up, the amount of disposable income that consumers now have is significantly higher. As such, cigarettes have a lower impact on a person’s disposable income and are arguably more affordable, despite the years in rising tobacco duty.
The campaigners are keen to point out that making cigarettes less affordable is the most effective way of encouraging people to stop. By further increasing the duty on cigarettes, they believe that it will convince those who are thinking about quitting to make the leap.
Smoking lobby groups are opposed to any increase in cigarette duty and argue that 5% rise above inflation would see a rise in counterfeit cigarettes and smuggling. They have indicated that they are hoping for a freeze or drop in cigarette duty.
A spokesperson for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) pointed that the smoking industry are continually trying to undermine measures to curb smoking, such as opposing the standardising of tobacco packaging. They went on to suggest that the industry opposition to a rise in cigarette duty was based on ‘ill-founded arguments that will be found wanting.’