DIARY: Tobacco tax has manufacturers group fuming

Where there's smoke, there's often disappointment. The Tobacco Manufacturers' Association is peeved this week after its tenacious lobbying strategy to push for a tax cut or freeze on tobacco duty was razed to the ground by Gordon Brown in last week's Budget.

Unless the Government took action, it argued, smuggling of cigarettes and other tobacco products would continue to undermine efforts to reduce smoking - as well as lose the Treasury billions of pounds.

Brown's tax-raising agenda was not about to be blown off course by a bit of lobbying from Big Tobacco - he slapped on 6p a pack, in line with inflation.

Alas, there's more trouble ahead for marketers in the pro-smoking lobby. An ad ban brought about by anti-smoking Liberal peer Tim Clement-Jones is set to sail through parliament and into law by the start of June.

No doubt the air will be thick with despair as the pro-tobacco lobbyists pack the bar at the Last Gasp Saloon around the end of May.

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