Cigarette taxes should be increased to pay for controversial smoking cessation measures for pregnant women, a report has claimed.
The report from the charity Policy Exchange suggests that the money raised could be used to offer a £10-a-week “reward” to women who give up smoking while expecting a child. It also called for a 5% hike on tobacco tax in next week’s budget - an increase that would see the cost of 20 cigarettes soar by £1.29 to an average price of £7.42.
The think tank said the increased levy was justified because the cost of smoking to the NHS far outweighed the money the habit raised, claiming that while the Treasury received a total of £10 billion each year because of smoking, the habit cost the state £13.74 billion - leaving a bill of 6.5p per cigarette to be met by the taxpayer.
Policy Exchange chiefs also want to see more extensive use of Champix, a drug said to make the process of giving-up much easier.
Henry Featherstone, head of Policy Exchange’s health and social care unit, said: “Targeted action like this would help reduce England’s growing health inequalities, whereby those on lower incomes suffer more ill health, which can largely be attributed to smoking.”