Cigarettes and Alcohol

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, announced the 2017 Spring Budget last week. Amongst the large array of price changes and resource allocations, two price rises stood out to me in particular: cigarettes and alcohol. In other words, the two commodities that make the student nightlife world go round.

Now, not only does this signify the first increase in beer duty for 5 years, the price of the average 20 pack of premium cigarettes has risen above £10 for the first time in history. UK taxation on tobacco is already the highest in the EU; prices in the UK are up to four times higher than in other European countries. Thanks to the budget, the minimum excise duty imposed by the government is now £7.35. Furthermore, you also pay VAT, meaning the total tax on a pack of £10 cigarettes (think Marlboro or Benson & Hedges) is at least £8.82. That’s a grand total of over 88% of your cig money going to the taxman. The cheaper alternative is rolling tobacco; a firm favourite amongst students. However, the budget has also dictated a 44p rise on the price of a 30-gram pack of your favourite Rollies.

For those who don’t smoke, alcohol prices have also risen. One litre bottles of gin and vodka will cost you 43p and 40p more, respectively. A bottle of wine will set you back 8p more, champagne or prosecco 10p more, and a pint of beer 2p more.

So what does this mean for students? Let’s start with pre-drinks. Often a tactic used to get drunk enough for a night out without having to pay astronomical prices in clubs, it may not be the cheap option looking forward. Prices of alcohol will continue rising with inflation, and tax on beer will continue to rise in line with retail prices. Furthermore, we are yet to see whether Leeds clubs will increase alcohol prices in response to the budget. If so, you can wave goodbye to 90p shots in Space and £1 pints in Yates’.

Smokers are likely to either switch to cheaper brands such as Lambert & Butler or Sterling, and we will also likely see even more switch to rolling tobacco, as it is still the cheaper option, especially for students. It is also possible that the traditionally cash-strapped student smoking population will be left with a difficult choice to make as rising prices will demand they quit one of their habits; not exactly a bad thing health-wise.

These price increases may please doctors, nurses and misocapnist, but students everywhere will be left cursing their luck whilst checking bank balances the morning after.

By Charlie Harrocks


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