Increase in tobacco duty

I made the following speech in support of Deputy Yvonne Burford’s amendment to the 2013 budget at the December 2012 States meeting  to increase tobacco duty by 1%, such funds to be used specifically to fund programmes to prevent people taking up smoking and to help smokers cease smoking.


Firstly Sir I would like to declare my interest in this debate as Patron of GASP, the Guernsey Adolescent Smokefree Project.

I welcome this amendment. In the debate on tobacco licensing last month I requested that the Minister of HSSD confirm that, if he was not able to direct resources on services that prevent young people from smoking, his Department would think laterally as to how it could raise those funds, either through fees or duties to ensure that we do not see a reversal of all the good work that has been done over recent years to reduce the prevalence of smoking in under 18s.

I didn’t get any assurance that that would be the case and the Deputy Minister said there was no chance of getting any funding. This is despite the fact the solution is simple and easy to implement.

Members may know that there was a 2011 update report to the Tobacco Strategy for 2009-2013. In  section 11 of that report it states that the HSSD Minister wrote to the T&R Minister requesting tobacco duty increase from RPI+3% to RPI+5% for 2012 and 2013 and that this was accepted and incorporated in the December 2011 budget for 2012. However, both this year and last year the proposed increase was actually RPI+3%. I am still awaiting an answer from HSSD regarding this anomaly. It may well be therefore, that it was always the intention to raise duty by more than that proposed by T&R.

Guernsey has seen great success in reducing the incidence of teenage smoking due, in no small part, to the educational programmes which have been in place over the last 15 years. It seems only right and proper that we raise and ringfence what is a relatively small amount of money to ensure that the educational and other associated programme providers can continue their good work.

Without any States funding GASP will cease to exist. This will be cruelly ironic in this Olympic year when it has played a big role in bringing the Olympics alive in Guernsey, for example GASP organised for 300 youngsters to have pride of place in the Smokebuster fanzone during the Torch Relay, producing the good luck banner for our 3 Olympians –Heather Watson, Karl Hester and Lee Merrien  and producing a booklet ‘From Torteval to London: How to become a Guernsey Olympian, written about Lee, who, incidentally, is a GASP Ambassador,

None of the people I know who smoke want to smoke. They all of them started smoking when they were at school. Peer pressure and wanting to look cool amongst your friends are strongest influences on young people and this will always be the case. Whilst there are smokers I have talked to  who have reservations about the efficacy of a licensing regime there hasn’t been one I have met who has objected to paying more for a packet of cigarettes if it meant that the extra funds raised would go toward tobacco education and to help protect the health of their children.

I would urge members to support this amendment which is fully aligned to the Future 2020 Vision of promoting, improving and protecting the health and social wellbeing of all.

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