Beer, wine and cigarettes go up - but spirits escape

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Indy Politics

The cost of beer, wine and cigarettes will increase, Chancellor Gordon Brown said today.

Duty on beer will go up by 1p per pint and a bottle of wine will rise by 4p from midnight on Sunday.

Cigarettes will increase by 9p per packet from tomorrow "for health reasons", the Chancellor said.

Duty on whisky and other spirits will be frozen.

The Chancellor said duty on whisky and spirits remained frozen for the ninth successive year - their longest period without an increase for half a century.

A duty freeze on champagne and British sparkling wine comes "in anticipation of World Cup success this summer", he added.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) described today's budget as a "slap in the face" for Britain's beer drinkers.

CAMRA Chief Executive Mike Benner said small, community pubs would suffer as a result of the 1p per pint increase.

He said: "This increase is a blow to pubs and consumers. We have seen that even a small increase in excise duty translates into a disproportionate cost for the consumer."

Mr Benner went on: "Given that beer is our traditional drink and the World Cup is being held in Germany, it's outrageous that the Chancellor has frozen duty on champagne.

"I hope millions of English drinkers can look forward to toasting England's success in the summer with a good pint of British real ale - not champagne."

Anti-smoking group Ash said the increased tax on cigarettes did not go far enough.

Ash director Deborah Arnott described the 9p per pack duty rise as "bad news" for public health.

She said: "... this Budget will mean a continuing fall in the real cost of smoking over the next year, failing to reduce smoking rates and undermining the good work done by the House of Commons recently in voting for comprehensive smoke free legislation in workplaces and enclosed public places."

Ken Patel, spokesman for the Retailers Against Smuggling campaign which is funded by the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, condemned the duty rise.

"Today's announcement by the Chancellor comes as yet another blow to local shopkeepers across the UK who, like myself, are struggling to stay in business because of the effect of tobacco smuggling on our sales," he said.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' lobby group, Forest, said lower paid, working class smokers would be hardest hit financially.

He said: "Many smokers now buy their tobacco abroad and this latest increase will encourage more to do the same. The real loser is the non-smoking British taxpayer who will be forced to cough up to replace the missing revenue."

The Scotch Whisky Association welcomed the freeze on whisky duty.