Duty-free cigarettes Turia's next target
Thu, 06 Sep 2012 12:28p.m.
By Tom McRae
There are calls for New Zealand to follow Australia's lead and reduce the duty-free cigarette allowance.
Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia wants it cut from 200 to 50, or around two packs.
The change could net the Government tens of millions of dollars in extra taxes every year.
As the price of a pack of cigarettes rises, the lure of duty-free has become stronger.
"We know the people who bring these cigs in through duty-free provide them for family members or sell them," says Ms Turia.
Australia introduced the reduced allowance last weekend, disappointing some Aussies at Queenstown Airport who'd hoped to stock up on their way home.
"I'm devastated," one told 3 News. "I was just about to go and buy some, I've been waiting all holidays for this."
Another said: "A bloke like me that's been smoking a long time, I need my 200 cigs, but it's good for they young kids to keep them off the cigs so I'll have to suffer for it, but I totally agree."
If New Zealand follows suit, it could bring in more than $50 million in taxes every year.
"We know cheap cigs are more likely to start smoking and we know it's hard to quit when cigs are cheap," says public health researcher Nick Wilson.
Currently duty-free cigarettes make up 5 percent of sales.
"We should definitely follow Australia's' lead in this area, but we should do better and go down the road Singapore has and wipe out duty-free sales entirely," says Mr Wilson.
This latest push would further punish the tobacco companies, who are in the midst of an expensive advertising campaign to stop plain packaging for their products.
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5/10/2012 11:47:40 p.m.
I'll never feel comfortable taking a strong drink, and I'll never feel easy smoking a cigarette. I just don't think those things are right for me.
Cheers, @Alex from <a href="http://2000cigs.com/">dunhill cigarettes</a>
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