The UK government could raise at least £500m a year by capping the amount of profit tobacco companies can make from cigarettes, academics have said.
They are calling for state regulation similar to that used to limit the price of water.The difference being, of course, that the water industry was built up using taxpayer funds and then transferred to private industry on the proviso that excessive profits weren't applied. After all, water is - unlike tobacco, as anti-smokers continually parrot - an essential resource. Tobacco companies have evolved using private money and their products are a choice not a necessity.
The two products could not possibly be more different. It's like comparing apples not even with oranges, but with monster trucks.
Dr Robert Branston, from the University of Bath, said the tobacco industry was "incredibly profitable", with some companies making 67p in profit out of every £1 received after tobacco duties. He described that as an "incredible sum".It is a sum decided by willingness to pay, one of the basic principles of economic theory which has been understood for, ooh, about 500 years give or take. It's also a principle which those on the left - with which the public health profession is overwhelmingly populated - have always despised. Mostly because the benefits their particular professions often offer tend to attract a willingness to pay level of fuck all.
This is why communist theorists, and governments which have followed their ideology, have often sought to control prices. However, they have usually done so more out of crassly misguided care for the poor, for example, rather than self-interest. Combined with incomes policy which enforces a state-sanctioned wage, they believed this would make the lot of the proud worker more affordable.
This certainly isn't the case with the BBC reported proposal.
"The results suggest that price caps could give the UK government scope to raise tobacco taxes by approximately £500m annually without affecting the price the consumer pays," they wrote.
The report said this was the equivalent of funding anti-tobacco smuggling measures across the UK and smoking cessation services in England twice over.And boom! There it is. It is nothing more than a veiled plea for more cash. Not for the poor or the oppressed, or the starving in Africa - but for the tobacco control industry.
They've looked through a window into the big tobacco's analogous home, seen the iPad and family silver, and think it would all look good in their new state-funded loft conversion. So they have put a call in to their mate big Dave, and his henchmen with their Everest window-busting crowbar, to come help them burgle it.
Just for added laughs, do note the way they are so considerate in thinking about the consumer. They don't want us to pay any more than we already do with this policy, apparently. Oh no, 'cause they're caring guys and girls, so they are. Perhaps they have forgotten their perennial calls for crippling increases in duty over and above inflation, which are specifically designed to bankrupt poor smokers into quitting whatever the real life consequences.
To end on a lighter note or two, it's interesting that one of the lead authors of this pre-crime casing of the tobacco industry's joint wasn't mentioned. You see, it's also the work of one of the biggest troughers in the tobacco control firmament, Anna Gilmore, whose name has cropped up here many many times before. She who is always on the look out for another way of boosting her income by producing studies to order, and someone about whom I was proud to have been quoted by tobacco tactics as being willing to "say anything for a grant".
She doesn't change her spots, does she?
The woman is so transparently compromised as a serious and objective commentator on tobacco matters that it was probably wise that BBC-published quotes were attributed to this Branston guy instead, eh?
What's more, this isn't even new. It's just a rehash of the same cash grab claptrap from 2010, which I have written about before after the daft political Welshies bought it as a credible policy rather than daylight robbery for self-enrichment.
Perhaps this austerity thing has them worried. This always seems to happen with tax-spongers, doesn't it? Faced with possible benefit cuts the most unscrupulous see no shame whatsoever in resorting to theft.