|Image CC BY 2.0 Andrew Goloda http://bit.ly/2AiyGEv|
One in five adults in the UK smokes and one in five adults drinks alcohol in hazardous or harmful ways. These ‘lifestyle factors’ are leading causes of preventable illness and death, including from heart disease and cancers. Over 80,000 people a year die earlier than they should from diseases caused by drinking or smoking. For those who smoke and drink alcohol, the risk of developing these preventable diseases is even greater. This preventable human loss is compounded by an annual cost to the NHS of over £6 billion.
There is evidence that people buy less cigarettes and alcoholic drinks when the price increases. Health advocates are therefore calling for higher taxes and changes to tax structures on alcohol and tobacco products to encourage people to quit smoking and reduce their drinking. However, it is not clear what effect this would have on tax revenues and the wider economy. There is uncertainty about the effects of tax increases on smokers and drinkers who are on a low income or unemployed. Consumers can change their behaviour in response to changes in prices (for example, by switching to cheaper or illegal products).Uncertainty can also arise because tobacco and alcohol companies and retailers can alter prices to ensure some products stay affordable despite tax increases. The planned research will address these areas of complexity.
More information can be found here