UK Budget: Tobacco and alcohol

12 Mar 2008

UK tobacco and alcohol tax increase; implications for cancer

The UK budget was announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alastair Darling today, indicating an 11p increase on a packet of cigarettes. However charity Cancer Research UK has argued that this is not enough:

Chief executive Harpal Kumar said: "We are very disappointed that the Government is not significantly increasing tobacco tax above inflation as this is something we've been calling for. Price rises have proved to be effective in encouraging people to stop smoking and deterring people from starting to smoke. These increases could have been used to help stop young people from taking up smoking and help more smokers to quit. We do however welcome the decision to maintain the reduced VAT rate on nicotine replacement products such as patches, chewing gum and lozenges.

"Price rises alone won't be enough to stop the cycle of death and destruction that tobacco inflicts on many individuals and families across the UK so we also need other positive moves from Government such as putting an end to the display of tobacco products, stopping tobacco sales from vending machines and working towards plain product packaging."

The chancellor has also put forward a 4p rise on a pint of beer, 3p on a litre of cider, 14p on a bottle of wine and 55p on a bottle of spirits.

This was met with a more positive response from CRUK:

"We are very pleased to see the significant increases on alcohol duty. Alcohol increases the risk for a number of cancers, including breast, bowel and mouth cancer. These increases in duty may help reinforce the message that people should drink moderately."