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Budget attacked for tobacco rises

Health charities have criticised the government for not going far enough after the Chancellor unveiled rises in tobacco duty in his first Budget.

Alistair Darling has added 11p to the price of 20 cigarettes, and 4p to the cost of five cigars, and said the 5% reduced rate of VAT on smoking cessation products will continue beyond 30 June.

But British Heart Foundation (BHF) public affairs manager Ruairi O'Connor said: "The BHF is somewhat disappointed that the Chancellor has not increased tax on cigarettes above inflation - this would have provided an obvious further incentive for smokers to quit.

"While we are pleased with the decision to maintain a reduced level of VAT on Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), we expect the government to now take a thorough approach to tobacco policy.

"This should include an urgent ban on cigarette vending machines which remain easily accessible to children."

And Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, added: "We are very disappointed that the government is not significantly increasing tobacco tax above inflation as this is something we've been calling for.

"We do, however, welcome the decision to maintain the reduced VAT rate on nicotine replacement products such as patches, chewing gum and lozenges."


Cancer Research UK

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