Star comment: Action needed now as rises fuel inflation further

Petrol and diesel prices appear to be going up daily.

The cost of a tank of fuel in the average car is now £100. It is shocking and troubling for many.

The price appears to be going up daily, with record hikes taking it towards £2 per litre.

There are things we can do, such as drive less and drive more efficiently, but for many the car is an essential tool, especially if you live in a rural area.

And businesses who rely on the car, the van, the bus or the lorry are suffering. They are being forced to push up prices, which impacts on us all. Haulage companies are reporting that it now costs an extra £20,000 per year to run a single truck. That cost has to be absorbed in the wider economy, which means we all pay a higher price for deliveries.

Meanwhile, as the price rises, so does the amount of fuel duty paid to the Government. Steps should be taken to pay that back to us through a cut in VAT on the forecourt in order to stem the short-term crisis. The Government, of course, is generating additional revenues as the prices rise.

Longer term, we are reliant on global markets settling down, which is difficult when the war in Ukraine is raging and Russian pipelines are being blocked. The Western world must use all its ingenuity to keep supplies flowing and at a price that the world can afford.

The impact on our infrastructure is also stark, particularly in rural areas where people are cutting back and where some fuel stations may not survive. Small businesses that operate on tiny margins are making next to nothing per litre and demand is falling. Yet those in rural areas depend on them and cannot afford to drive into town to fill up at a supermarket forecourt.

Smoking costs a fortune, gives you wrinkles, bad breath and ultimately is likely to kill you. Yet there are still around six million people who smoke and around 60,000 people a year who lose their lives because of it.

The new commission on how to tackle the issue will be seen by some as radical, but in reality it is using tried and tested tactics - price people out of buying, educate them on the risks and use laws to prevent a new generation from getting their hands on them. It is all common sense - the Government should accept all recommendations and get on with it.

Our friends in New Zealand are outlawing cigarettes altogether, being far bolder. Our friends in the USA are also banning those under 21 from smoking. Nothing should be off the table.

Smoking is a scourge and we should not be afraid to act.

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