Smoking bodies have warned that the government’s tobacco tax will hit the most disadvantaged hardest and promote bootlegging, and they said that Rishi Sunak’s plan to increase prices by 88 pence to about £13.60 per pack will leave holes in the wallets of those worst hit by the pandemic.
Smoker’s group Forest blasted the move and insisted it could see a surge in unregulated and counterfeit goods trafficked into the United Kingdom.
The Chancellor’s Budget on Wednesday unveiled the latest tax hike for tobacco, which will see the cheapest cigarette packs increase by 63 pence to £9.73.
He said duty rates on all tobacco products will rise by the Retail Price Index measure of inflation plus 2 per cent.
Simon Clark, director of Forest, told a newspaper outlet that smokers are sick and tired of being targeted every year with above-inflation hikes in tobacco tax.
He said that the majority of smokers come from more disadvantaged backgrounds and that many have suffered financially as a result of the pandemic and shouldn’t have to endure yet another hike in the cost of tobacco at a time when they can least afford it.
He added that raising the rates of tobacco tax will surely promote illegal trade which destroys legitimate retailers and puts customers at even greater risk from unregulated and counterfeit tobacco.
The latest figures show that tobacco smuggling is an industry worth about £2.2 billion a year.
HM Revenue & Customs says that the illicit tobacco market in the United Kingdom has changed significantly since 2000 and that historically it was made up of genuine UK brands of tobacco smuggled from lower-priced EU countries.
And that currently, it’s much more of a mix of genuine UK and non-UK brands of cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco, counterfeits, and increasingly, illegal whites.
Hand rolling tobacco has also increased due to the Budget, by RPI plus 6 per cent meaning a 30g bag will now cost above £9.02, and the minimum excise tax will go up by RPI plus 3 per cent.
Ministers hope that the move will decrease the number of people smoking, but they were panned on social media following the announcement, with one branding the cost ludicrous.
Others pointed out the cost of cigarettes had been increased while at the same time taxes on some alcoholic beverages such as prosecco and cider were reduced.
Another wrote that the cost of cigarettes had risen again, so let’s not pretend this is about health, and of course, the Government know that numerous people will have to give up smoking, especially the poor, and it’s well known that Government is addicted to tobacco taxes and excises and they just keep wanting more and more, and it will never stop because there will always be something in the pipeline to tax on.
Although non of it makes any sense because the tobacco tax has gone up, but alcohol has been reduced. So, it’s not okay to buy cigarettes, but it’s okay to go out, get bladdered and then come home and beat the hell out of your wife and kids?
Yet there are many people out there that will say that if a person can’t afford to smoke in the first place then they should give up. Does this also mean that when food becomes too costly they should give up eating as well?
Food might be essential, but smoking also lowers stress levels, which can be linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, obesity and numerous more.