Lobbyists call for ban on duty-free cigarettes
Wed, 25 Jul 2012 6:16p.m.
By Dan Parker
The duty-free retail trade of cigarettes is in the crosshairs of anti-smoking lobbyists and politicians, who say it is fuelling a rapidly growing black market.
One doctor even told a select committee it is an outdated privilege which needs to be quickly attended to.
Currently there is an allowance of 200 duty-free cigarettes per traveller for those leaving and entering this country, and opponents say this is leading to a flourishing black market.
National MP Nick Smith says even sports groups are exploiting duty-free to help fund their trips.
“I do think it's a bit perverse to have sporting groups doing trips off to Aussie to promote good health and then subsidising it off the back of hocking cheap duty-free cigarettes,” he says.
The Australian government has just reduced its allowance to 50 cigarettes per passenger to help curb the problem, and a select committee today heard we should follow suit.
Dr Murray Laugesen, Managing Director of Health NZ, says more also needs to be done to help those with serious addictions, and that concessions for products that help are needed.
“De-nicotinised cigarettes is well within the power of your committee because all we are asking for is a reduction in the excise for cigarettes that don't contain nicotine,” says Mr Laugesen.
One of the select committee's main tasks is to look into increasing excise on tobacco, but ASH NZ Director Ben Youdan says that a much wider approach is needed.
“Following the last round of tobacco tax increases budget brands flooded the market and gained significant market share, and there were a number of new brands which were described as ultra-low cost,” he says.
Mr Youdan says this is evidence strong measures are needed because the tobacco industry has a track record of undermining legislation.
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