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Fag smokers are facing the biggest ever rise in the price of a packet of tabs next month as the government unleashes another salvo in the war on tobacco.
According to The Sun, Industry experts expect Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to deliver a major blow to smokers as he prepares to raise tobacco taxes in line with soaring inflation in the March 15 Budget.
The increase could see a packet of 20 cigarettes leap by more than 15%, a rise of £1.15, with a 30g pouch of hand rolling tobacco rising by £2 overall.
READ MORE: Smoking topless plane passenger bites crew member while trying to break into cockpit
Even the Action on Smoking and Health group urged Mr Hunt to increase the duty by 5.4 per cent in line with earnings rather than rampant inflation, amid fears a sharp rise would benefit the black market – which is already believed to have cost the Treasury more than £51billion in lost taxes.
According the Office for Budget Responsibility, the rate on cigarettes is 16.5 per cent of the retail price plus £5.26 on a packet of 20.
The rate on cigars is £3.28 for a 10g item, hand rolling tobacco is £9.07 for a 30g pouch, and other smoking and chewing tobacco is £4.32 for a 30g packet.
The government's aim is to make Britain “smoke free” by 2030, meaning fewer than 5% of adults enjoying a puff.
One major change was 2007 law that banned smoking inside public spaces such as offices, shops and pubs.
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Benjamin Elks, operations manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "Smokers already pay vast sums to the Treasury," adding: "Tobacco taxes are high enough, without yet another damaging increase. The government should freeze tobacco duty."
The Alliance's website adds: "Tobacco duty is needlessly complicated, economically distortionary and morally oppressive.
"It is also associated with large ‘grey’ markets caused by attempts to avoid or evade high rates in the UK."
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