Radical public health proposals including those aimed at stamping out smoking by 2030 were delayed this week as ministers appeared to have lost their bottle.
The Prevention Green Paper, consulting on measures to improve public health including a tobacco levy, was due to have been published on Monday but was postponed until today (11 July) but as EHN Extra was sent out there was still no sign of it.
Conservative party leader frontrunner Boris Johnson last week launched an attack on so called ‘sin taxes’, targeting the sugar tax first.
He said: “Rather than just taxing people more, we should look at how effective the so-called sin taxes really are, and if they actually change behaviour.”
Prime minister Theresa May supports the paper but she is due to step down at the end of the month, and campaigners fear this opportunity to improve public health may backslide.
The green paper contained radical proposals to exact a levy on tobacco firms on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, to pay for measures to help people stop smoking. Plans to raise the legal age for smoking from 18 to 21 have been dropped.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: “If Boris thinks halting the hikes on so-called ‘sin taxes’ would be popular when it comes to tobacco, he’s got the wrong end of the stick. The public supports government action to tackle smoking, and over the last decade the proportion thinking the Government should do more has grown significantly.”
Out of a survey of over 10,000 people in England a majority of 72% support a ‘polluter pays’ levy, according to ASH’s research.