Research from the University of Bath’s Department for Health and School of Management has contributed to a recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health calling on the Chancellor to increase tobacco taxes, to fund a reduction in smoking prevalence.
Professor Anna Gilmore, Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, and Dr Rob Branston, Deputy-Director of the Centre for Governance and Regulation, presented expert evidence on tobacco industry profitability and pricing at an Inquiry by the APPG into the cost effectiveness of tobacco control.
A summary of the evidence presented at the Inquiry will be submitted as evidence as part of the Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review – APPG on Smoking and Health. Representation to the 2015 Spending Review. Oct 2015.
Evidence in the report shows that measures to reduce smoking prevalence, including by tobacco taxation, are not only cost-effective but can also have a positive impact on public finances. Members of the APPG recommend that the tobacco tax escalator be increased from 2 per cent to 5 per cent above inflation every year.
They also call for spending on tobacco control to be increased from £200 million to £300 million a year, funded by the additional tax rise. This additional investment could deliver a return on investment of almost 1100 per cent over 5 years and nearly double the rate of decline of smoking, they suggest.
The NHS Five Year Forward view forecasts a £30 billion shortfall in funding by 2020 and even after additional funding promised by the Government there will be a predicted shortfall of £22 billion by 2020.
According to the King’s Fund, closing this gap through efficiency savings alone will be “very challenging”. Therefore to avoid large reductions in NHS services, it will be necessary to reduce demand. The APPG Inquiry heard that continuing to drive down smoking prevalence will be essential to the success of this strategy.
Professor Anna Gilmore:
“Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the UK and reducing smoking rates is a high priority for public health. While the UK has made good progress in tobacco control, much more could be done. Our work shows there is clear scope to further increase tax on tobacco but that simultaneously the tax structure must change to ensure that the tobacco industry cannot undermine the intended impact of tobacco tax increases.”
- To find out more about the work of the TCRG see http://www.bath.ac.uk/health/research/tobacco-control/ & http://www.tobaccotactics.org/
- For more on the Centre for Governance & Regulation http://www.bath.ac.uk/cgr/