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Increasing Tax of Smoking Will Create More Non-Smokers……NOT!

Increasing Tax of Smoking Will Create More Non-Smokers……NOT!

For years, when I have taught smoking cessation to trainee therapists, I have said the same thing “Money is never a proper motivator to get people to stop smoking”. It is as true today as it ever was. An  All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health wants the increase in smoker’s tax to be increased from 2% to 5% over inflation. To the untrained eye, this would seem a perfectly reasonable position “If we make smoking too expensive people won’t smoke”. However, good this looks on paper, it does not pan out in reality.

Smoking statistics are some of the most massaged figures in health. When one looks at Stoptober for example, the idea is not to get people to become permanent non-smokers, but rather to get them to stop for 4 weeks. This period does increase the likelihood of becoming a permanent non smoker by a small percentage, but like so many programmes, such as the give up drink for January campaign, people do it and resume when the campaign ends. No real behavioural modification at all.

If we truly want to see a reduction in smoking, the NHS and the Department of Health, should be more honest about the causations of smoking and how these can be overcome through programmes of behavioural modification, rather than the mantra of Nicotine Replacement Therapy or the latest golden bullet, the E-Cigarette. Smoking cessation can happen, but to think one can increase tax as a means of getting people to quit, is like adding a “poor person’s tax” as it is often those in less advantageous social circumstances who can least afford it, who end up smoking more.

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