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Scottish Government wants power to dictate price of tobacco

Sun 15th May, 2011

The price of cigarettes in Scotland could soar if the Scottish parliament wins control of alcohol and tobacco taxes.

If given the new powers by Westminster, it is believed the SNP government would significantly raise prices for cigarettes and high-strength, low-cost beers and ciders.

Nationalist MSP Kenny Gibson, chairman of the cross-party group on tobacco control, said, "I would like to see the price of cigarettes continue to rise above inflation but that is a strategy which can only be implemented if we have the controls to prevent widespread smuggling."

Another Nationalist MSP, Stewart Maxwell, said, "If excise duty is devolved we could have a fully rounded health policy. One of the problems with devolution is that issues are never fully devolved. On smoking, we have banned it in public places, we have raised to age to 18 - but we can't set the price.

"Not that this is just about the price. It is about an overall package of measures to discourage young people from taking it up in the first place."

A senior UK Government source warned that the Coalition would resist any attempt to devolve control of excise duty to Scotland, claiming it would be impractical to have different rates in different parts of the UK. He said it could lead to cross-border trade in illegal tobacco and alcohol.

Source: Mail on Sunday (15 May 2011)

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