Put cigarettes up to £20 a pack with tax hike, MPs on health committee tell George Osborne

The all-party group says an extra £100m could be spent on helping people quit the habit, which causes 80,000 premature deaths a year

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MPs want George Osborne to massively hike tobacco tax which could see cigarettes heading for £20 a pack.

They are asking him to up the duty escalator on smokes for the next five years from two to five per cent in next month’s spending review, the Sunday People reports.

That would increase the price of a £7 pack by 35p in next year’s Budget and add 50p to £10 brands.

And it would mean smokers coughing up 21p more than the 14p rise Mr Osborne has already pledged.

The All Party Group on Smoking and Health say an extra £100milion could be spent on helping smokers quit.

Allowing for inflation cigarettes would hit £20 by the 2020s.

Action: MPs says the Chancellor should show smokers tough love

Action on Smoking and Health boss Deborah Arnott said: “You would be pricing out of the market a product which kills.

“If e-cigs are an available and affordable alternative £1-a-cigarette is reasonable.”

Tory MP Bob Blackman , who chairs the group, said every pound invested to curb smoking saves the taxpayer £11 in lower NHS costs and more income tax.

And Labour vice-chair Kevin Barron added: “If the NHS is not to sink under overwhelming demand we must do more to prevent disease.”

The report calls for a 15% escalator for hand-rolled cigarettes to bring prices into line with manufactured ones.

Killer: Smoking causes life-threatening illness, putting pressure on the NHS

Smoking is responsible for 80,000 premature deaths a year yet cigarettes are now cheaper in real terms than they were in the 1960s.

ASH said higher prices are the best way to stop young people starting to smoke and encourage low income earners to stop.

Last year 51% of the 450,000 smokers who vowed to quit managed to do so successfully.

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