Raise tax on cigarettes, says Warwickshire health chief

Dr John Linnane says a price hike would force some smokers to give up the habit. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Dr John Linnane says a price hike would force some smokers to give up the habit. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

A pack of 20 cigarettes should cost about £10, according to Warwickshire’s director of public health.

Dr John Linnane is asking the Government to help smokers quit by raising tax on tobacco by five per cent above inflation annually.

This will push the price of cigarettes to almost £10 for a pack of 20.

Dr Linnane said: “Smoking remains the single biggest cause of preventable deaths in Warwickshire and is a threat to local young people in particular. Two thirds of smokers start before the age of 18 and in Warwickshire, more than 1,600 children aged between 11 and 15 start smoking every year.”

Cllr Bob Stevens, the county councillor with special responsibility for health, said: “Research conducted in several countries has shown that increasing tobacco prices through taxation is the single most effective mechanism to reduce demand for tobacco.

“Price increases are especially effective in reducing tobacco use among lower-income groups and in preventing young people from starting to smoke.”

Chair of Smokefree Warwickshire, Cllr Angela Warner, said: “Despite the great steps forward in recent years, more than 107,000 people still smoke in Warwickshire. This translates into hundreds of preventable deaths every year – more than from any other cause.

“Reducing the number of deaths caused by smoking is a key public health priority for Warwickshire County Council. Over the last few years considerable work has been undertaken to reduce smoking in the area, increase the support available for those looking to quit, target illicit trade and support education initiatives with young people.

“However, raising the price of tobacco through increasing taxation is the most effective way of reducing smoking rates and saving lives. That is why we are calling on the Chancellor to be bold and raise the tax by 5% above inflation to further motivate smokers to quit.

“In a recent survey, over half of the general public in Warwickshire agreed or strongly agreed on using tax to increase the price of tobacco products 5% faster than the rate of inflation each year.”

For information about the free and friendly Stop Smoking Service in Warwickshire call 0800 085 2917, Text LIFE to 80800 or visit www.smokefreewarwickshire.org.