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Cancer charity calls for a ‘tobacco levy’ to save quit services

Petition launched calling on Big Tobacco to ‘cough up’

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A major cancer charity has launched a new campaign asking the government to make Big Tobacco “cough up and pay for the damage it causes”.

Cancer Research warns that cuts to local public health budgets could threaten the existence of stop smoking services, and says the tobacco industry should make up the difference. 

It is calling for the Chancellor George Osborn to introduce a levy on the tobacco industry to pay for smoking cessation services, when he announces his Budget on March 16.

“The tobacco industry makes more than £4,000 in profits for every death caused by smoking,” it claims. 

“We think that by holding it to account for this financially, stop smoking services can be given the investment they need, to make sure everyone who wants to use them, can do so.”

Its petition, launched today, states: “The Government can pass a law to force tobacco companies to pay for the damage they cause (a ‘tobacco levy’). This means the Government would charge them around 1p per cigarette they sell in the UK, to raise an extra £500m to invest into public health services and advertising campaigns that could help more of the two thirds of smokers who want to quit ditch the habit for good. We only have six weeks to get at least 10,000 people to tell Chancellor George Osborn we have a solution that could help save thousands of lives.” 

Commenting, Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer prevention, said: “For too long the tobacco industry has had an easy ride, making money without having to spend a single pound on the damage its products cause. It continues to profit from selling a highly addictive and lethal product that causes illness and death. Tobacco companies make billions of pounds every year, so we’d like to see them using their profits to keep stop smoking services open and fund advertising campaigns to help people quit. At a time when health budgets are stretched, this is a simple solution to a lethal problem. We urge the Government to make the industry cough up.”

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