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Tobacco levy rejected by government

The government has rejected the idea of introducing a levy on tobacco companies, which would have meant smoking cessation services would get extra funding. 

Every year in the UK, 100,000 smokers die as a result of smoking, with around 22,000 smoking-related deaths from heart and circulatory disease, according to the latest British Heart Foundation (BHF) figures.

The cost of smoking in England alone is estimated to be £12.9 billion per year, £2 billion of which are costs to the NHS for smoking-related illnesses.

Mike Hobday, BHF director of policy, said: “It's hugely disappointing that the chancellor has decided against a levy on tobacco companies, despite more than 120 national and local organisations supporting the measure in the consultation.” 

“The tobacco industry must be held to account for the damage its products are doing to the nation's health. A levy on tobacco companies would raise vital funds for stop smoking services, whose support significantly increases people's chances of quitting,” he said.

Smokers are almost twice as likely to suffer a heart attack compared to non-smokers and quitting smoking is said to be the single best thing a person can do to improve their heart health, the BHF said.

Hobday said: “The Government has missed this golden opportunity to support more smokers to quit and help cover the health costs of this deadly habit.”