Smoking is taxing

I’m reading Allen Carr’s book “Easy ways to stop smoking” as I do need to stop even though I’m down to a few a day. I would recommend it to anyone thinking about giving up.

I did stop at one point in the book where he points the finger at advertising ‘men’, sounds like the girls are let off. It’s a section on brainwashing and of course the ad industry is an easy target. What Mr. Carr seems to forget is that we have a long history of smoking and advertising; much of the legacy of the past lives on albeit slowly fading. Back in the olden days advertising ran featuring handsome people having a good drag on their favourite brand. Also advertising ran that claimed remarkable benefits, Typhoo tea for example was once the cure of numerous ailments. All of this has changed in all categories of marketing and advertising over time as rules and regulations have been introduced to ensure all advertising is accurate and honest.

I don’t have the facts at hand but I did hear a report recently that said smoking amongst the under 20’s is on the increase yet they have grown up in a world without any advertising for cigarettes. I found this a surprising statistic but purely by observation the number of younger people having a fag outside bars and pubs seems to be an epidemic.

Therefore I challenge Mr. Carr’s assertion and would suggest other factors are the drivers of young people taking up the evil weed.

Mr. Carr also refers to drugs such as heroin but fails to make the point that cigarettes are legal and heroin isn’t. I suspect if cocaine and heroin became legal and freely available we would see an explosion of market growth in those areas. Perhaps the driver is people just want an escape, to feel good, so any substance that achieves that state will always be required in large quantities, whether it is a can of Stella or a packet of B&H – both most likely.

The macro economic dilemma here, well argued by better people than me, is the position smoking puts any government in. In 2009/10 HM Revenue & Customs generated £10.5 billion via excise duty and VAT on tobacco sales*. In January 2011 the RRP for a popular brand of cigarettes was £6.63, the tax was £5.08 **yet more under 20’s are smoking – where do they get the dosh! The Government I suppose.

Maybe the big drugs companies R&D departments should be working on the ultimate happy pill; pop one and the world glows and everyone hugs each other. Assuming no side effects this invention might see off fags, booze and illicit drugs? It would ruin dinner parties. When the guests arrive they all get a pill rather than a G&T and more pills over dinner. Could they be chardonnay flavoured I wonder?

Returning to Allen Carr’s book it is good and very helpful, I just found the advertising remark shallow and mis-leading.

* Source: HM Revenue & Customs/Tobacco Manufacturers Association

**  Source: Tobacco Manufacturers Association

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