HC Deb 03 April 1963 vol 675 cc459-60

I also propose to abolish the system of Excise licences for the sale of tobacco. The purpose of these licences is not to produce revenue—they cost only £1 for a four-year period and yield about £100,000 a year—but to assist in the control of the Tobacco Duty. I am now satisfied that they can be dispensed with without risk to the revenue: and I do not think that their retention on non-revenue grounds could be justified. The work of issuing licences is not inconsiderable and abolition will accordingly give a useful administrative saving.

Since there are about 400,000 outlets for the sale of tobacco—about one for every 50 smokers—abolition of licensing could not be expected to lead to any increase in total sales; nor is any appreciable change in the pattern of trade likely. There is, therefore, no question of this decision interfering in any way with the Government's campaign to make people aware of the dangers of smoking, particularly as a cause of lung cancer.