Fresh and Balance respond to Autumn statement on tobacco and alcohol
North East health programme Fresh and Balance has welcomed moves in the Autumn statement to raise the price of tobacco – but have labelled the lack of action on alcohol as a setback for health.
The Chancellor today announced the government will increase duty on hand-rolling tobacco by 10% over the tobacco duty escalator, meaning tax will go up by the level of inflation at 6.1%, plus another 12%. It means the price of hand-rolling tobacco will increase by a reported £3 per 30g pack tonight. Duties on a pack of 20 cigarettes will also rise by a reported 85p.
However despite almost a million alcohol-related hospital admissions a year and record levels of alcohol deaths, particularly in the North East, alcohol duty has been frozen until 1 August 2024 with no increase in duty on beer, cider, wine or spirits.
Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh and Balance, the North East tobacco and alcohol programme, said: “It is hugely welcome to see such decisive action to reduce smoking….price is a massive reason to encourage more people to quit and fewer people to start in the first place.
“However this is a missed opportunity for alcohol which is a setback to the nation’s health. We need to ask why alcohol is treated so differently as a product when liver disease is rising, when alcohol is causing around 17,000 cases of cancer and nearly one million hospital admissions for the NHS every year.
“We need consistent action on harmful and unhealthy products through price and promotion of harmful rather than different rules, and ensure there is enough funding so that our population is informed of the risks, that harmful products are not celebrated, and people who need support are able to access it.”
The tobacco duty increase also follows a plan which Fresh has welcomed to create a “smokefree generation” by raising the legal age to be sold tobacco products year by year. The plan meant that anybody aged 14 years old or younger would never legally be able to buy cigarettes.
Balance in November has launched the brand new “Alcohol is Toxic” campaign to warn alcohol is a direct cause of 7 types of cancer – including bowel, breast, liver throat and mouth cancer.
The World Health Organisation warns there is “no safe amount” of alcohol for health with the risks starting from the first drop.