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Tobacco levy

Volume 609: debated on Tuesday 3 May 2016

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that cuts to public health funding mean vital Stop Smoking Services are being closed down; further that these closures are preventing smokers accessing the most effective way to make them quit; and further that an online petition and an additional paper petition on this matter have received 16,112 signatures.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges HM Treasury to make the tobacco industry pay for the damage they cause by introducing a tobacco levy to help fund Stop Smoking Services and advertising campaigns to help people quit.

And the petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Kevin Barron, Official Report, 8 March 2016; Vol. 607, c. 246.]


Observations from the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Damian Hinds):

The Government thank the right hon. Member for Rother Valley (Kevin Barron) for his petition on introducing a levy on the tobacco industry to fund smoking cessation services. We also thank all the members of the public who have signed the petition.

As the single largest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK, smoking remains one of the country’s most significant public health challenges. The Government laid out their position on introducing a levy on the tobacco industry in the consultation response published last September. The Government do not believe a levy is an effective way to raise revenue or protect public health, particularly when we have already committed to maintaining the tobacco duty escalator until the end of the Parliament.

Local Authorities will receive over £16 billion to spend on public health—including stop smoking services—over the next five years. This is in addition to what NHS England will continue to spend on vaccinations, screening and other preventive interventions.

The Government remain committed to working towards their two fiscal goals on tobacco of raising revenue and protecting public health and will continue to make targeted interventions through the tax system. At Budget 2016 we announced an additional 3% rise on hand-rolling tobacco duty and that the Government would introduce a minimum excise tax for cigarettes, with legislation in Finance Bill 2017. The Department of Health will publish a new tobacco control plan later this year, which will ensure the Government’s wider strategy for tackling the harms caused by tobacco continues to strengthen and evolve.