Wednesday 9 October 2013

"Tax fags, not booze" ~ survey

Disappointing news for that dwindling band who want to see the smoking ban relaxed. Market research company mruk polled a representative sample of 1,058 adults from across the UK asking them to imagine they were the Chancellor of the Exchequer and needed to help the NHS save money. The results were:
  • 37% wanted increased cigarette tax.
  • 14% wanted unhealthy, high fat food to be taxed.
  • 6% prioritised alcohol pricing.
Rachel Cope, head of mruk research, commented “Whilst almost everyone recognises the impact of smoking on health, that’s not the case with moderate alcohol consumption. If there’s no perceived impact on health then people see minimum pricing as just another tax.” Personally, I consider £7.98* for a packet of 20 to be excessive, especially as £6.17 of that is tax. With cigarette smuggling on the increase, it's stupid to keep on putting up the tax if by doing so you get ordinary people accustomed to breaking the law.

While this survey was not specifically about the smoking ban, it suggests to me that liberalisation of the ban would not be popular, a view supported by a recent survey by YouGov of more than 1,000 Scottish adults which found that 78% would be in favour of extending the smoking ban to include play areas, such as parks and sports facilities, with only 11% against it. My own view, as I've stated before, is that I don't want changes to the ban either way; I find I'm not much affected by cigarette smoke in the open air. However, the precedent has been set in Wales with many areas banning smoking in play parks.

Perhaps the fact that 94% didn't support minimum pricing for alcohol, despite the relentless propaganda of the anti-alcohol brigade, is evidence that the common sense of the British people is greater than we might assume from media reporting. That alone must be a good thing.

* Figures from the Tobacco Manufacturers Association.


  1. Are you trying to attract the nutters that frequent Mudgies blog?. A blog hit is a blog hit, I guess

  2. Nice one! No, it's perhaps more an example of, "Fools rush in"! Last year I wrote a post on smoking that was completely unrelated to the ban.

  3. One of the few things I've ever agreed with the Labour former Home Secretary John Reid on is when he said that increasing the price of cigarettes through taxation doesn't lead it to anyone smoking less, it just means that poor people have to spend a larger proportion of their income on cigarettes than rich people.

    The same of course is true of alcohol duty and VAT which is why socialists have generally argued that indirect taxation should be scrapped in favour of progressive income taxation.

  4. Yes, I agree. Indirect tax operates under the same principle as the poll tax - you pay the same irrespective of income or resources.

  5. People will always vote in favour of taxing things they don't do themselves, but the level of tobacco duty has now reached the point where it is actually bringing in less revenue for the Exchequer and leading to a huge amount of smuggling. Apparently over 75% of all hand-rolling tobacco consumed in the UK is now smuggled. And, given the higher rate of smoking prevalence amongst the working classes, it is a highly regressive tax, even more so than VAT in general and alcohol and fuel duties.


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