Clear Danger Signals for Chancellor With Tobacco Duty Increases in this Month’s Budget mdi-fullscreen

An astonishing 43% of England’s smokers have bought illegal tobacco in the past month. A survey by Kantar, commissioned by JTI UK, of 1,400+ smokers in England shows that 43% of them admitted to buying cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco in the past month that were not in the plain packs required in the UK. Even more concerning was that the seven percentage point (7pp) increase from Q3 this year, the biggest change since the survey began and now stands at its highest point.

This staggering finding reinforces our view that the consumption of non‑UK duty paid tobacco products has been increasing since the start of 2022. If the Chancellor does not amend his tobacco duty policy on the 15th March, the potential for the biggest ever excise duty increases will add fuel to the fire of a growing illegal trade in tobacco products. If taxes are increased in line with inflation as usual, the cheapest pack of 20 cigarettes could cost over £12 and a 30g pack of hand rolling tobacco £17.50!

These kinds of increases will no doubt be a gift to the illegal trade, with our own test purchasing finding illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco typically on sale for £5 and the UK Government’s own figures showing that tobacco smuggling cost them £2.5 billion in tax revenue in 2020/21 alone. This increase is an incentive for criminals as it will further widen the price between legitimate and illegal products.

This article was written and produced by JTI.

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