The Budget Could Have Been Worse For Smokers…..

I watched the second half of the budget speech this afternoon. To be honest, I had forgotten about it until something reminded me. I was in time for his his tobacco announcement.

I was somewhat disappointed. I expected at least a short diatribe about the Evil Tobcoms, but t’was not to be. All there was was a single sentence – something like, “As usual, tobacco duties will rise by inflation plus 2%”. End of.

I am not saying that ‘inflation plus 2%’ is OK. Far from it. Inflation will increase the price of a packet of cigs a bit, but then add another two percent, year after year, and then add VAT onto that new price, and you have a perfect example of ‘persecution by process’. The ‘process’ is the automatic nature of the 2% increase, plus the VAT on top. They call it ‘the escalator’, but it should properly be called ‘the screw’, since it is being tightened all the time.

I thought that it was quite comical that he then went on to extol his freezing of duty on beer, cider and spirits, although there was some talk about ‘white’ cider being different. I did not quite catch that. So, he increased the price of tobacco ‘as usual’, but, in effect, decreased the price of booze!

Is that hypocrisy?

I think so, especially in view of the sugar tax. There is a tobacco ‘epidemic’, and obesity ‘epidemic’ and a booze ‘epidemic’, but the booze tax gets reduced ‘to help the great British Pub’! What happened to the ‘epidemic’?

But it could have been worse. I vaguely read Hammond’s very short statement about the increase in tobacco duties as slightly apologetic. I just have a feeling that these people know very well that the incidence of LC in women has increased at much the same rate as the decrease of LC in men, even though smoking prevalence has fallen amongst males and females at much the same rate over the past few decades. They know very well that the ‘tobacco epidemic’ was never a single issue – that it was multi-factorial. Inhaling coal dust AND smoking would be dangerous. Inhaling tobacco smoke AND clean, seaside air would not be dangerous. Unless the persons had a genetic propensity to LC anyway.

And so on and so on.

That, essentially, was the basis of Fisher’s (the ‘father of statisitics’) criticisms of Doll’s Smoking Studies. Doll was not a statistician. He got enough funding from wealthy Anti-tobacco zealots to hire people to send out questionnaires to doctors and link the resulting info about their smoking history to their death certificates. The whole process was political in a broad sense. According to Fisher, the process was not even remotely scientific. Doll’s conclusions that smoking caused LC deaths was equivalent to ‘bad air’ causing malaria.

But the budget could have been a lot worse for smokers. At least those of us who still go to the pub occasionally can drink beer at a lower price than would otherwise have been the case. At the same time, we can also do our best to continue to circumvent the persecution in any way that we can.


3 Responses to “The Budget Could Have Been Worse For Smokers…..”

  1. Timothy Goodacre Says:

    Yes we do try as far as possible to evade this persecution , in my case by sourcing abroad. This should not be necessary though and is an attack on people with low incomes or are less mobile who enjoy tobacco. Shows what a nasty country we have become.

  2. junican Says:

    It also shows how servile our politicians have become.

  3. Are Politicians beginning to regret Smoking Bans? | Frank Davis Says:

    […] There was a Budget statement a few days ago. I didn’t watch it, but Junican did: […]

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