Tobacco firms 'should be made to pay quitters tax'

Credit: PA

Tobacco firms should be made to pay a "quitters tax" to help people stop smoking, health campaigners say.

More than 120 public health-related organisations have joined Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) to call on the government to impose an annual levy on cigarette companies.

The money would pay for evidence-based measures to reduce smoking, including enhanced media campaigns.

A new report claims this could save tens of thousands of lives over the next decade.

Each year smoking costs the NHS at least £2 billion and a further £10.8 billion in wider costs to society, including social care costs of £1 billion.

Peter Kellner, who wrote the ASH report, said: "The tobacco companies, which last year made over a £1 billion in profit, are responsible for the premature deaths of 80,000 people in England each year, and should be forced to pay for the harm they cause.

"Placing a levy on tobacco companies to fund such work is a win-win - saving both money and lives."