In what is bad news for smokers, the price of cigarettes in the UK has skyrocketed following an announcement made by Jeremy Hunt during his Spring Budget on Wednesday (March 15). The chancellor revealed a tobacco duty hike of 15%.
The price of a 20-pack of cigarettes has surged by £1.89 to an average of £14.73 under the new changes, according to ONS data. It came into effect from 6pm on March 15.
During his address at the House of Commons, Jeremy Hunt revealed the cigarette levy was to increase in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI) at 12.7%, plus around 2% extra which is applied to all tobacco products.
But 30g packs of rolling tobacco will see the most significant price hike yet, jumping by the RPI of 12.7% as well as an extra 6% added on top. The last cigarette tax rise took place during the 2021 budget as tobacco continues to be a major earner for the government, bringing in approximately £10.7 billion to the Treasury in 2022 alone.
This move was expected by the industry as duty paid on cigarettes often increases with inflation each year, but Director of smokers’ group Forest told GB News: “Inflation is forecast to fall to 2.9 per cent by the end of the year. By raising tobacco duty above the current rate of inflation, which is 12.7 percent, smokers will be paying way beyond what is fair and reasonable.”
It is reported the government aims to increase the price of tobacco frequently to reduce the number of smokers in the UK. This is to meet its aim of being ‘smoke free’ by 2030.