Smoking, vaping and eating

A recent article about the Smith Commission brought an interesting chart: apparently, tobacco tax brings in £1.1bn* to the revenue from Scotland alone. Intrigued, I found the source, the Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland 2012-13 publication, and made a few calculations using the data on p 32. It turns out that whether you consider Scotland or the UK as a whole, and whether or not you count in the North Sea revenue, while the percentage of smokers is falling, those who still smoke pay (by doing so) an increasing percentage of the revenue.

Keep this in mind when some politician tells you next time about their ‘fears’ that vaping may be a gateway drug to smoking. Putting aside that this defies both ONS research and common sense (unless you also dread kids’ champagne as a first step leading to alcoholism), the real problem is obviously different: they still haven’t found a pretext for taxing somebody who switches from tobacco to e-cigs as much as when he was still a smoker.

* Incidentally, if you want to say that it costs the economy more than that, McKinsey & Company apparently agree with you – saying that obesity costs just as much; unfortunately it’s hard to tell how much of the £9.3bn/yr in VAT comes from food.



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