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May 3, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Puffers hit in the pocket

Smokers to suck up more costs

Legislation rushed through parliament under extraordinary urgency last week will see the price of cigarettes increase.

Loose tobacco is hardest hit, with an immediate 24 per cent increase in excise tax, followed by two further 10 per cent increases to be introduced in January 2011 and January 2012 respectively.

The new law sees an immediate 10 per cent increase in excise tax on cigarettes to be followed by the same subsequent 10 per cent increases in the excise tax on loose tobacco.

The new law was introduced by Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia, who says “ultimately this is about saving lives”, explaining that “putting up the price is a powerful tool to reduce smoking”.

Community group Te Reo Marama welcomes the tax increase.

Director Shane Kawenata Bradbrook says it “is a significant move toward reducing tobacco prevalence rates that particularly impact disproportionately on Maori”.
Bradbrook has called for “greater financial investment in quit programmes and campaigns needs to be made by the government”, as an extension of the increase in taxation.

“It would be ideal to actually have even 2 per cent of this 10 per cent increase to support cessation, health promotion and research activities on tobacco.”

Health Promotions Manager for Cancer Society Dr Jan Pearson says they are “delighted” with the increase in taxation.

Furthermore, Pearson has called for the government to take further steps including removing tobacco displays from retail outlets.

“We see the next step as a ban on tobacco displays, something we have been advocating for a long time that will work towards preventing young people from taking up smoking.

“The tobacco industry relies on young people to start smoking as their customers die off at the rate of 5000 a year, and it is not older people who take up smoking.”

Chairman of the New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores (NZACS) Roger Bull disagrees with the Cancer Society’s call for banning displays, saying there is no “empirical support on the effectiveness of introduced display bans”.

“The retail sector calls on the National Government to reinforce its decision not to introduce an ineffective and costly ban in New Zealand.”

Bull also raised concerns that the increase in price of tobacco might see retailers facing “increased threats of robberies and assaults”.

Libertarianz Party leader Richard McGrath has accused the National and Maori Parties of making “a naked grab for money”.

“This law change is not about Maori health, it’s about the asset-stripping of New Zealanders.

“The taxes on tobacco already cover the costs of health care caused by smoking-related illness, so this is simply an extraordinary urgent sin tax—a punishment for doing things that don’t hurt anyone but which Nanny State doesn’t like you doing.”

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