By Paul Lacey
Only eight days after the Chancellor announced a 5% rise above inflation on tobacco duty in the 2012 Budget, Brightonians have already started to change their smoking habit.
Price rises have yet to hit customers of smaller retailers due to their stocks of pre-pricemarked cigarettes but larger stores have already reported a slight decrease in sales.
Steven Paris, 25, from the Co-op convenience store in St. James Street said: “Customers complain about the rises and many have switched to rolling tobacco or just buy 10 instead of 20.”
This early indicator may vindicate the Chancellor George Osborne when he said: “There is clear evidence that increasing the cost of tobacco encourages smokers to quit.”
However, not everyone is convinced that the increase will deter smokers and even suggest that the real reason for the duty rise is to gain more revenue by unfairly targeting the less affluent.
Phil Knight, 45, from Brighton, said: “It [the rises] selectively penalises poorer people because it’s a greater portion of their income.”
He added: “If you want to raise more money for the country, you should be taking it from the richer part of the population.”
Other Brightonians however agreed with the rises and thought that paying another 37 pence per packet of 20 was a good move by the government.
Morgan Keef, 24, said: “It should be more expensive as if it’s too cheap, it encourages more people to smoke, although hardcore smokers will always find a way to fund their habit.”