Tobacco duty increase ‘a smuggler’s charter’

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The price of a pint will increase by more than 5p and thousands of jobs will be lost, campaigners said after the Government confirmed rises in alcohol duty rates.

The Treasury said rates will increase by 2 per cent above RPI inflation, so prices go up 5 per cent next week.

Camra said the announcement will lead to the price of a pint increasing by between 5p and 10p in pubs, adding that beer duty has increased by more than 40 per cent since 2008.

The British Beer and Pub Association warned that thousands of jobs will be lost this year and hundreds more pubs will close after the Government’s decision to press ahead with the beer tax escalator.

And a smokers’ group slammed the tobacco duty increase as a “smugglers’ charter”.

Duty increased by 5 per cent above inflation at 6pm yesterday – the equivalent of 37p on a packet of cigarettes.

Forest director Simon Clark said: “This is a smugglers’ charter. More and more consumers will turn to the black market or buy their tobacco abroad.

“The elderly, the low paid and the unemployed will be hit the hardest but this is an attack on all law-abiding smokers who support Britain’s retailers by purchasing their cigarettes at home.

“The only people celebrating this decision will be criminal gangs and tobacco control lobbyists.”

Chancellor George Osborne was already committed to increasing duty by 2 per cent above inflation.