Daniel Hamilton of the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch said in response to the Budget:

“Since 1999, tax on a pint of beer has increased 57%. The levy imposed on a 20 pack of cigarettes has gone up 54%. Someone drinking seven pints of beer a week is paying around £58 a year more than they did in 1999, while the cost of smoking a packet of cigarettes has increased by around £327.

“Drinking beer and smoking cigarettes is a matter of basic personal choice. People should have a right to enjoy these perfectly legal products without the nanny state seeking to tax their personal preferences out of existence.

“People’s response to ‘sin taxes’ is, generally, to sigh and pay them – the result isn’t to drive down consumption, but to increase the government’s tax take.

“It’s high time governments of all political persuasions stopped viewing smokers and drinkers as easy targets for unfair tax hikes.”