Thursday, July 2, 2020

Smokers and Taxation: Some Things Will Never Change

For years, smokers groups have complained about one thing in their singular voice: the continued raid on cigarette duty by successive governments, which has almost doubled the cost of a packet of cigarettes over the past 20 years. With every new budget that is announced, a few cents or pennies are customarily added on to the already well-burdened smoker, and the smokers rights groups protest again.

In reality, governments have nothing to fear from taxing cigarettes at astronomically high levels. Smoking is bad for health; the health of smokers, through direct contact, and for non-smokers who may become victims of passive smoking. Therefore, if a government adds extra taxation on to cigarette duty, they can claim it is in the public interest – that by making cigarettes more expensive, smokers may be more likely to quit. It’s one tax that no one can argue with on the grounds of health and protecting the public as a whole; smokers rights don’t come in to it.

It is therefore pointless to argue. If you, like many smokers, feel trepidation at the announcement of a new budget and have steadily watched the cost of smoking increase several-fold over your lifetime – accept it. You really have no other option. In the United Kingdom, tobacco taxation brings the government treasury nearly £9 billion per year – and they’re not going to stop now. With the health argument on their side, no government is going to be the ones to make it easier and cheaper to smoke; so if you want to carry on smoking, accept that higher and higher taxation is a certainty you cannot avoid.