Bad news for smokers as Budget sees price of cigarettes soar

Campaigners have labelled this price hike as “heartless and cruel” to smokers

Mustafa Javid Qadri
Thursday 16 March 2023 09:35 GMT
Spring Budget 2023: Draught drinks in pubs to be taxed less, chancellor announces

Smokers will be forced to pay even more for their habit after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt raised tobacco duty in his Spring Budget.

The price of a 20-pack is set to soar past the £14 mark, stretching the budgets of more than 6 million UK smokers a little further. Jeremy Hunt confirmed the price hike as part of the Spring Budget in the House of Commons, and they came into effect at 6pm on Wednesday.

The cigarette levy is set to go up by 10.1 per cent in line with the Retail Price Index, plus an additional two per cent on top.

According to the Office for National Statistics the average price for a pack of 20 cigarettes is £12.84 - so a 12 per cent price increase would take it up to £14.38, or an extra £1.54 per packet.

Hand-rolling tobacco will go up by 10.1 per cent plus an added 6 per cent.

Simon Clark, director of smokers’ campaign group Forest, criticised the move.

“Punishing smokers for their habit during a cost of living crisis is heartless and cruel,” he said. “It discriminates against poorer smokers and will drive many more consumers to the black market.

“This is bad news for legitimate, law-abiding retailers, and bad news for the Treasury which could lose billions of pounds in revenue if more smokers buy their tobacco from illicit traders.”

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of illness and premature death, killing 74,600 in 2019 with more than half a million admissions to hospital.

The last time cigarette prices jumped was in October 2021, when 88 pence was added to the most expensive pack, going from £12.73 to £13.60.

The government is hoping the price increases will bring the country one step closer to being smoke-free by 2030.

The Government also slapped taxes on alcohol beverages with prices expected to soar. Tax on alcohol will go up by 10.1 per cent in August and in line with inflation.

However, the duty charge on draught pints will be frozen to help the “the great British pub”, the Chancellor announced.

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