Lifestyle Economics

IEA responds to new proposals from ASH


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Responding to the launch of Action on Smoking and Health’s new report, Christopher Snowdon, Director of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“With the ink drying on the plain packaging legislation, ASH are already pushing for yet another set of prohibitionist policies. More tax rises and further bans leave no doubt that this is a state-sponsored vendetta against Britain’s ten million smokers. It is now abundantly clear that ASH are not just anti-smoking, they are anti-smoker.”

Making the poor poorer

“It is sheer hypocrisy for ASH to complain about smokers being impoverished when it is their own policies that make the poor poorer. When tobacco duty makes up 80 per cent of the price of a pack of cigarettes, it is hardly surprising that smokers tend to be poorer than non-smokers, nor is it surprising that the UK is awash will counterfeit and contraband tobacco.”

Increasing tobacco duty by 5 per cent (plus inflation) every year

“ASH’s plans will mean that a cigarette will cost one pound by 2025. Price is the single biggest driver of the black market for tobacco, so it is no surprise that there has been a 30 per cent rise in illicit consumption in the last three years (according to HMRC data). The combination of plain packaging and further tax hikes will only fuel this criminal epidemic.”

Banning smoking outdoors and in cars

“A ban on smoking outdoors is bullying and harassment of the most spiteful kind. There is not a shred of evidence about secondhand smoke to justify it. Similarly, ASH want a ban in cars regardless of whether children are present.” 

Tobacco levy

“Smokers pay £12 billion a year in tax, vastly more than the amount that smoking is said to cost the NHS. There is no case for an additional levy which will ultimately be borne by consumers. Plundering the profits of businesses after they have paid their taxes will send a message to companies around the world that Britain is not a safe place to invest. If the government wants to save money, it should stop funding pressure groups like ASH.”

Notes to editors:

To arrange an interview please contact: Camilla Goodwin, Communications Officer, 0207 799 8920 or 07821 971 443.

Christopher Snowdon previewed the ASH report for Spectator blogs last week. The article can be read here. 

For further details of how taxes on tobacco, alcohol and fuel harm the poor, see the Institute of Economic Affairs discussion paper Aggressively Regressive: The ‘sin taxes’ that make the poor poorer.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.