Observe the naked cash grab by the tobacco control people


It's a general rule of UK taxation that we don't do hypothecation. On the very sensible grounds that how much we can raise by taxing on activity has absolutely no relationship whatsoever to how much we desire to spend on some other activity. Fuel tax is not all spent on the roads, national insurance does not pay for the NHS and so on. But we now have a proposal that we should have an explicity hypothecated tax: Pressure is growing for the introduction of an additional levy on cigarette sales in the UK, a move that campaigners say could help eradicate tobacco consumption within decades.

To tax tobacco more or less: an interesting question. Our supposition is that it's already taxed over the top of the Laffer Curve, given the percentage of the market currently supplied by smuggled and informal imports. But certainly, whether to tax more or not is something that can and should be discussed. But more tax in itself won't bring about that no smoking world simply because we do live in a free society with open borders. However, the idea is worse than that:

“The industry is one of the most profitable on Earth,” Burstow explained. “The two largest tobacco firms in the UK, Imperial and Japan Tobacco International, hold around four fifths of the UK market and achieve joint profits of about £1bn a year. Charging those firms to help clean up the damage their products cause is a rational and justified extension of the ‘polluter pays’ principle to public health policy.”

Stuff and nonsense, the polluters are those who smoke. Just as it is people driving cars who produce fossil fuel emissions, not the petrol companies. But it gets worse again:

Health campaigners say the introduction of a levy equivalent to 25p a pack could raise £500m a year, money that they say should be used to fund measures to help people quit and prevent the uptake of smoking. Health campaigners believe devoting greater resources to tobacco control will bring major benefits.

This is simply a naked cash grab. The various bureaucrats and prodnoses in the "public health" sector want to have an untouchable £500 million a year to spend upon themselves. Whatever happens at the election in a few weeks time this is an idea that must be rejected.

More tax on tobacco? Meh. A dedicated revenue stream for these people? Absolutely no way at all.