Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), one of Britain’s most influential lobby groups, has released a new report today demanding that the tobacco industry is “forced” to pay to stop people smoking – in a ‘get turkeys to vote for Christmas’ move.
In the new report Smoking Still Kills, ASH calls on the British government to introduce minimum pricing for cigarettes, much in the same way the health lobby has already brought about minimum pricing for alcohol, a move that has been observed to only impact the poorest consumers in society.
The document also calls for tax hikes on tobacco to grow to a whopping five per cent above inflation on all products, for a significant rise in the tax on rolling tobacco, and the introduction of tobacco licensing.
The flagship proposal of the document, however, is the creation of a new Tobacco Companies Obligation, an annual levy in imitation of a scheme run in the United States where tobacco firms are required by law to fund anti-tobacco lobbying groups, and give up billions of pounds of their own post-tax profits to the government every year.
To make the ‘obligation’ a reality, ASH proposes the government re-negotiate the European Union’s Tobacco Tax Directive to prevent tobacco companies from raising the prices of cigarettes to pass the cost of the levy onto smokers, and be required to publish all sales data and marketing strategies, suggesting the move is more about punishing the companies than dis-encouraging smokers.
When Breitbart London spoke to ASH director of policy Hazel Cheeseman on Tuesday, she rejected the suggestion that tobacco companies might take action to avoid the levy by off-shoring operations, or importing tobacco by intermediaries, and that the giant firms would be happy to acquiesce to the new regime.
Meanwhile, a new poll showed that the British public thought that anti-smoking work by the government has gone far enough, with 57 per cent of people backing the return of indoor smoking, in separate, ventilated areas.
ASH has been the recipient of hundreds of thousands of pounds in government funding, which it is reported it spent on lobbying the government.