News Releases

Forest rejects call for tobacco levy to reduce smoking rates

Wed 10th June, 2015

Forest has urged the government to reject the “comprehensive package” of anti-smoking measures published today by the taxpayer-funded NGO Action on Smoking and Health.

Director Simon Clark said a tobacco levy – one of many proposals – would almost certainly be passed on to consumers and would hit those who can least afford a further increase in the price of tobacco.

He said:

“A tobacco levy would probably lead to tobacco becoming even more expensive and would have the same result as raising the duty on tobacco.

“It will hit the elderly, the low paid and the unemployed hardest, and it will encourage criminals to flood the black market with cheap and sometimes counterfeit tobacco.

“That in turn will hit small convenience stores who will lose vital business.”

Forest criticised ASH’s five-year tobacco strategy ‘Smoking Still Kills’, published today [WEDNESDAY], and said government had gone far enough in its anti-smoking policies.

A poll carried out last week by Populus for Forest found no strong desire for a further package of tobacco control measures following the tobacco display ban and standardised packaging.

Tackling smoking was considered to be the lowest in a list of ten government priorities for the National Health Service, behind even obesity and alcohol issues.

The poll also found that a majority of adults oppose bans on smoking in public parks and private vehicles without children.

And in a sign that voters now believe some regulations have gone too far, more than half (57%) would allow well-ventilated designated smoking rooms in pubs and private members' clubs.

Significantly, said Clark, a huge majority (75%) are opposed to NGOs using taxpayers’ money to lobby government.

"Enough is enough. Smoking isn't good for you. We get it. But this is not just about health. Tobacco is a legal product and government must take into account other factors such as choice, personal responsibility and, dare I say it, pleasure.”

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