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Axe the tobacco duty escalator, says Forest

Mon 15th February, 2016

Campaigners have urged the Government to abandon the annual increase in tobacco duty and "give law-abiding smokers a break".

Launching a campaign against the tobacco duty escalator and what it calls "punitive" taxation on tobacco, the smokers' group Forest said that since 2010 tobacco taxation has increased by more than 40 per cent and the total tax on the price of the cheapest cigarettes in the UK is currently 88 per cent.

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said, "It's time for government to stop fleecing the consumer and give law-abiding smokers a break.

"Tobacco duty in the UK is at punitive levels already and it’s no coincidence that the country is a hotspot for illicit trade including counterfeit cigarettes.

"Any reasonable assessment must conclude that a further increase in tobacco duty will benefit no-one other than criminal gangs and black market traders.

"Tobacco is a legal product and smokers have a right to expect a level of taxation that is fair and reasonable and doesn't increase poverty or inequality.

"We believe it makes economic sense to not only abolish the duty escalator but to freeze or even reduce tobacco taxation.

"Smokers would still make a major contribution to the economic health of the nation, far in excess of the estimated cost of treating smoking-related diseases, which is said to be £2.7 billion a year.

"Government policy should reflect the social and economic realities of smoking, not the smoke free utopia some people would have us inhabit."

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