Thursday, 3 March 2022

The Tobacco Control Research Group say the quiet part out loud

As reported in a handful of regional newspapers...
Introduce price cap on cigarettes to reduce smoking – study

A maximum price cap for cigarettes sold in the UK would help cut smoking rates, according to a study.

A price cap set by a tobacco regulator would allow for only a minimal profit for firms, researchers from the University of Bath said.

Yes, it's our old fiends at Anna Gilmore's Bloomberg-funded Tobacco Control Research Group at Bath Uni.

Currently, tobacco companies have generally been able to cushion smokers from the full impact of regular tax increases on cigarettes by keeping prices on some products low and offsetting costs with increases on their other, higher-end products, the study found.

This means there is currently a wide variation in cigarette prices in the UK – a difference of up to £5 from the cheapest to most expensive brands from around £9.75 at the lowest end to £14.65.

As consumer goods go, that isn't actually a very wide variation.

A price cap, by comparison, would effectively mean there was a standardised cost for cigarettes, helping to make future tax rises “much more effective”.

A price cap on cigarettes sounds like a pretty cool idea if you're a smoker, but it's not obvious what the appeal is to the prohibitionist fanatics at Bath University.

Like regulation for utilities industries, a wholesale price cap on cigarettes would be imposed by government or a regulatory agency. Excise duty, sales taxes, retailer mark-ups and any other legitimate costs would be added to that price to produce a shop price.

A cap on wholesale energy prices is designed to keep prices low. That is the whole point of a price cap.

There is an effective minimum price on cigarettes because of the massive tax rate, currently £5.25 a pack plus an ad valorem tax of 16.5% of the retail price, plus VAT. If you had a maximum price as well, the government could effectively control the price of cigarettes. This doubtless appeals to the pocket dictators at Bath Uni, but it would only bring prices at the top end down. That would clearly not 'help cut smoking rates'. Indeed, it might make smokers of premium brands smoke more.

A price cap would get rid of the premium end and leave only the cheapest cigarettes available. This is the exact opposite of what people in 'public health' are trying to do with alcohol through minimum pricing.

At first glance, it doesn't make any sense. So what is the point? To understand, we need to go back to the second line...

A price cap set by a tobacco regulator would allow for only a minimal profit for firms, researchers from the University of Bath said.

They're saying the quiet bit out loud here, aren't they? For a large number of 'public health' activist-academics, the campaign against smoking ended a long time ago. It is a campaign against business and capitalism now. That's why Anna Gilmore teamed up with the far-left crank David Miller. That's why they're against vaping. A lot of the paradoxes in 'public health' can be explained by the fact that they are not primarily concerned with health.

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