Cancer Research UK responds to Budget 2008

In collaboration with the Press Association

The Chancellor of the Exchequer today made his maiden Budget speech in the House of Commons.

Alistair Darling acknowledged the fact that it was No Smoking Day and announced: "From 6pm today the duty on tobacco will rise, adding 11 pence to the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes and four pence to the price of five cigars.

"And to help people to stop smoking, we are continuing the five per cent reduced rate of value added tax on smoking cessation products beyond June 30th this year."

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, commented: "We are very disappointed that the Government is not significantly increasing tobacco tax above inflation as this is something we've been calling for.

"Price rises have proved to be effective in encouraging people to stop smoking and deterring people from starting to smoke. These increases could have been used to help stop young people from taking up smoking and help more smokers to quit.

"We do however welcome the decision to maintain the reduced VAT rate on nicotine replacement products such as patches, chewing gum and lozenges.

"Price rises alone won't be enough to stop the cycle of death and destruction that tobacco inflicts on many individuals and families across the UK so we also need other positive moves from Government, such as putting an end to the display of tobacco products, stopping tobacco sales from vending machines and working towards plain product packaging."

Mr Darling also made changes to the rate of excise duty on beer, wine and spirits, which will be increased by six per cent above inflation.

The tax rises will equate to an extra 4p per pint of beer, 3p per litre of cider, 14p per bottle of wine and 55p on a bottle of spirits.

Cancer Research UK welcomed this decision. Mr Kumar said: "We are very pleased to see the significant increases on alcohol duty. Alcohol increases the risk for a number of cancers, including breast, bowel and mouth cancer. These increases in duty may help reinforce the message that people should drink moderately."

Cancer Research UK has also welcomed the Chancellor's decision to support the system of Gift Aid.

Mr Darling told the House: "Charities play a vital role. We will therefore implement a transitional rate of 22 per cent to allow them to continue to claim Gift Aid at the current rate, delivering £300 million worth of relief and will give charities the certainty they need for the next years."

Harpal Kumar described this as a "crucial decision" and noted that it would prevent the charity sector from losing hundreds of millions of pounds as a result of the two per cent drop in the basic rate of income tax, which was announced in last year's Budget and will come into effect in April.

"We are very pleased to see the Government listening to the sector on this crucial source of income as we've been working hard to convince the Government to support charities," he said.

"We look forward to working with the Government on the longer term package of measures to reform the Gift Aid system announced today."