Health prevention organisations are protesting against the current price of tobacco in Belgium, and the “financial gift” that the government has given to companies which only modestly increased the price of a packet of tobacco at the start of 2015. According to the calculations of health activists, it is as much as 80 million, Le Soir reported on Monday. “The tax on rolling tobacco increased by just 10 cents at the start of January, while the tax on a packet of cigarettes remained the same. This allowed one of the large producers, Philip Morris, to increase the price of a packet of 19 Marlboro cigarettes by 30 cents without worrying about a large fall in sales”, says Luk Joossens from the Cancer Foundation.
According to experts from the foundation, the government’s wait and see policy has allowed cigarette companies to pocket 11 cents out of the 30 cent increase, while the State could have obtained it all by increasing specific excise duties.
That windfall would have been welcome in these times of budget shortages.