Experts applaud tobacco tax hike
Fri, 25 May 2012 1:30p.m.
By Dan Satherley
Scientists and health experts have backed the Government's move to radically increase excise tax on tobacco over the next four years.
In yesterday's Budget, Finance Minister Bill English announced yearly 10 percent tax increases on tobacco, which will eventually push the price of a pack of 20 over $20.
Prof Janet Hoek of the Department of Marketing at University of Otago said there is strong evidence linking price increases to decreased consumption.
"Consumers are more responsive to price than they are to any other marketing intervention," she told the Science Media Centre.
"We know that most smokers regret the fact they started smoking and would like to be smokefree. A tax increase will stimulate many of these people to make a quit attempt and successfully become smokefree."
Yesterday Imperial Tobacco claimed the country's tobacco black market would grow as a result of the increases.
“The government could shoot itself in the foot with this policy decision by creating a lucrative black market for tobacco," said corporate affairs manager Cathy Edwards.
"This could eventually cause the Government to lose revenue if the illicit market gets a foothold here, as it has in Australia."
Prof Hoek rejected Imperial Tobacco's claims.
"I know tobacco companies have suggested black markets will emerge in response to other policies but I have never seen any evidence to support these claims," she says.
"I understand from colleagues that homegrown tobacco is not particularly palatable."
Dr George Thomson of the University of Otago's Department of Public Health says price increases are an effective way of reducing smoking in low-income groups and youth.
He also says studies show decreases in life expectancy caused by financial hardship due to tobacco taxation is "orders of magnitude smaller than the harm from smoking".
"Policy makers should be reassured that tobacco taxation is likely to be achieving far more benefit than harm in the general population and in socioeconomically deprived populations."
Dr Thomson says the next steps should be ensuring there is a minimum price per pack of smokes (so youth can't be lured in with loss-leading cheap brands), reduced retail availability and the removal of flavours, enhancers and additives, making smoking less palatable.
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28/05/2012 10:03:58 a.m.
i see no tax on alcohol?
26/05/2012 6:12:31 p.m.
Thats a rubiish arguement Matty... obviously coming from a complete plonker.
Domestic violence in New Zealand is out of control as is child abuse and promiscuous sex.
The leading cause is alcohol.
25/05/2012 11:09:20 p.m.
Kevin the difference with tobacco is that there is no real safe level of consumption, and also that it's far more addictive, not to mention the collosal health bill for associated medical care. . Binge drinking is for the most part just a faze in the 16-30ish yo bracket and generally it's knock-on health costs are low (generally A&E admissions which is low cost treatment). The saying rings true "It's not the drinking, it's how we're drinking." But could you really justify the statement "It's not the smoking, it's how..." ..you get the picture.
25/05/2012 10:45:06 p.m.
Imperial tobacco are concerned about a black market due to increased excise duty. Readers can interpret this as them seeking opportunity to continue depriving the NZ economy of much more than material value. They're trying to legitimise their involvement in the NZ economy without acknowledging the role of our customs officials. A potential black market which they overstate is no reason to allow Imperial the same existing freedom to kill people.
25/05/2012 4:22:40 p.m.
@Kevin, you cant expect a pack of overpriveldged alcoholics like Ministers from the National Party to want to pay more for their own addictions surely?.
25/05/2012 3:19:16 p.m.
kevin i agrea with you they whot do anything about it as they are all drinkers freedoms and personal respoabilitie and choices are slowly been taken away by so called western countries they had there fun but now wont let othere have some
25/05/2012 2:01:02 p.m.
Kevin Reilly wrote:
Alcohol is the biggest social problem that faces New Zealand,and is ignored by central government,I wonder why ? Is it big business and government in each other's pockets,again.
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