News Releases
Budget: Chancellor told to “stop punishing smokers”

Campaigners have urged the Chancellor to “stop punishing smokers” when he announces his first Budget on March 11.

Forest wants the Treasury to reject calls by Action on Smoking and Health and other anti-smoking bodies to reintroduce the tobacco tax escalator and close the gap in tax between hand-rolled tobacco and factory-made cigarettes.

The group also wants the Chancellor to refuse demands to impose a levy on tobacco companies to raise a £300 million annual fund to pay for further anti-smoking measures.

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said:

“The Treasury must stop punishing smokers because this annual assault on the pockets of ordinary people cannot continue.

“Reintroducing the tax escalator will push the poorest smokers further into poverty and drive illicit trade, putting smokers at even greater risk.

“Closing the gap in tax between hand-rolled tobacco and manufactured cigarettes is another spiteful attempt to target the less well off.

“A levy on tobacco companies will also penalise smokers because everyone knows it will be passed on to the consumer.”

He added:

“The Chancellor has an opportunity to stand up for consumers who are willing to pay their fair share of tax but object strongly to being punished for a habit that already earns the Treasury over £10 billion a year.”

See: ‘What will the Chancellor do for smokers this No Smoking Day?’, ASH, March 10, 2020.

Simon Clark

Mission & Vision



Forest’s mission is to protect the interests of adults who choose to smoke or consume tobacco.


Our key aims and objectives are to:

  • counteract the “denormalisation” of smoking, and smokers
  • prevent further restrictions on the purchase and consumption of tobacco
  • establish closer links with other tobacco-friendly groups at home and abroad
  • build support among consumers of tobacco and other similarly threatened groups
  • highlight the increasingly intrusive nature of Big Government in the lives of private individuals