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Home News MPs call on government to make Big Tobacco pay to deliver a Smokefree future

MPs call on government to make Big Tobacco pay to deliver a Smokefree future

November 10, 2023

Photo: iStock

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health has on Thursday published its tobacco control manifesto, calling on government to make Big Tobacco pay to deliver a Smokefree future.

The report said the cost of smoking to public finances in England would be £21 billion in 2023, nearly double the tobacco tax take of £11bn. The wider cost to society in the UK was estimated to be £89.3bn, equivalent to around 3.9 per cent of the UK’s GDP.

“The APPG strongly supports the government’s ambition to create a smokefree generation. In order, however, to maximise the benefits to health, wellbeing and to the economy, the smokefree ambition must be delivered for everyone, and current investment is not sufficient,” Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, chair of the APPG, said.

“The APPG’s tobacco manifesto calls on the government to put a ‘polluter pays’ levy on the tobacco manufacturers to provide the necessary funding for a Tobacco Control programme fit to deliver a Smokefree Future for us all.”

Modelling by UCL’s Cancer Research UK funded Tobacco Research Group for the APPG of the impact of recently announced additional funding for Stop Smoking Services, and anti-smoking campaigns in 2024, demonstrates it could reduce smoking prevalence significantly. Economic modelling shows that reductions in prevalence deliver immediate financial benefits to public finances.

The modelling demonstrated that the APPG’s recommendations could save £3.1bn for the public purse during the course of the next parliament and a ‘polluter pays’ levy on tobacco manufacturers could raise up to £700 million a year.

Howard Reed, director, Landman Economics, who carried out the economic modelling for the APPG said: “Tobacco company lobbyists argue that the cost of smoking to the NHS is more than made up for by tobacco taxes. But detailed scrutiny of the data shows that the damage to public finances and wider society caused by smoking due to reduced productivity, ill health and early death far outweighs tobacco taxes.”

“Reductions in smoking provide immediate benefits to public finances by reducing pressure on the NHS and social care systems, increasing tax revenues and reducing social security costs. The £85 million investment in stop smoking services and anti-smoking campaigns just announced for 2024 could pay for itself within the year. If all the APPG recommendations were implemented the cost of smoking to public finances could be cut by over £3 billion by the end of the next parliament.”

If current government and NHS commitments are implemented in full, sustained and enhanced as recommended by the APPG in its report, smoking prevalence could be reduced by a third to 7.3 per cent during the next parliament, the report added.