No mercy shown for smokers

Smokers and drinkers face their annual bout of soul searching and cogitation on the cost of their habits in the wake of Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's latest onslaught yesterday.

Smokers and drinkers face their annual bout of soul searching and cogitation on the cost of their habits in the wake of Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's latest onslaught yesterday.

Having dealt in his 2009 Budget with environmental fiscal measures to encourage energy efficiency, Manuel told the National Assembly the tax code also "discourages another category of atmospheric emissions".

"Madam Speaker, I refer to the duties on tobacco products," he said.

This year's increase in the duty on cigarettes and cigars would be 13 percent, with somewhat lower increases on cigarettes and pipe tobacco.

A packet of 20 cigarettes would cost 88 cents more, he said.

"I should also advise that a bottle of wine will cost 10,5 cents more, and a can of beer seven cents more."

Manuel said a Mr At du Plooy had written to ask, "please be a little more lenient on the tax on whisky for the old folks. We have so little to enjoy, you know things that used to happen after dark no longer happen. All we have left to enjoy is a little entertainment before supper".

Manuel said Du Plooy had asked for leniency, reminding him it would ultimately be for his own benefit as well.

"A bottle of whisky, Mr Du Plooy, goes up by R3,21."

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