MP wel­comes tobacco tax rises

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

The price of cig­a­rettes is now set to rise to over $20 a pack over the next four years, as Par­lia­ment on Oc­to­ber 16 passed the Gov­ern­ment’s promised Bud­get tobacco ex­cise in­creases into law.

As­so­ciate Health Min­is­ter Hon Tar­i­ana Turia wel­comed the new leg­is­la­tion which will fur­ther drive down smok­ing rates to save lives and im­prove health.

Mrs Turia said: ‘‘smok­ing con­tin­ues to be by far New Zealand’s sin­gle lead­ing cause of avoid­able death and dis­ease, and it is great to have the strong cross- party sup­port for such an im­por­tant mea­sure. These tobacco ex­cise in­creases will save lives. They send a strong sig­nal that smok­ing just isn’t worth it,’’ Mrs Turia said.

The new law will raise the tobacco ex­cise tax by a se­ries of cu­mu­la­tive 10 per cent in­creases com­ing in on Jan­uary 1 in each of the next four years, 2013-2016. This is expected to lift the price of a typ­i­cal pack of cig­a­rettes from about $14.30 to­day to po­ten­tially $20 or more per pack in 2016.

‘‘ I know that this will hit smok­ers in the pocket, but I am not pre­pared to sit back while an­other gen­er­a­tion ad­dicted to smok­ing.

‘‘ We know that rais­ing the tobacco ex­cise is the most pow­er­ful tool we have to stop chil­dren tak­ing up smok­ing and to en­cour­age smok­ers to quit,’’ Mrs Turia said.

‘‘And we know those price rises will be even more ef­fec­tive be­cause we are back­ing them up with a com­pre­hen­sive tobacco con­trol pro­gramme pro­vid­ing bet­ter help for smok­ers to quit.’’

This in­cludes ces­sa­tion sup­port ser­vices such as Quit­line and treat­ments such as nico­tine

be­comes patches, lozenges and gum, and also pre­scrip­tion medicines to help peo­ple quit.

‘‘All the proven treat­ments and quit smok­ing medicines are fully sub­sidised.

‘‘I am par­tic­u­larly wor­ried by the much higher smok­ing rates among Maori and Pa­cific peo­ple.

‘‘My hope is that smok­ers take the op­por­tu­nity to contact Quit­line, or one of the other op­tions avail­able in­clud­ing Aukati Kaipaipa and spe­cial­ist Pa­cific ser­vices, be­fore the next wave of price rises hits next year.

‘‘The Gov­ern­ment’s ex­pec­ta­tion is that all health­care pro­fes­sion­als will also be pro­vid­ing ad­vice to quit smok­ing as a rou­tine part of their clin­i­cal prac­tice. This is one of the Gov­ern­ment’s six pri­or­ity health tar­gets – aim­ing for 95 per cent of hos­pi­talised smok­ers and 90 per cent of all smok­ers seen in gen­eral prac­tice to be given the po­ten­tially life-sav­ing ad­vice.’’

Bud­get 2012 also pro­vided $20 mil­lion over the next four years for a new in­no­va­tion fund, Path­way to Smoke-Free 2025, for pro­grammes to dis­cour­age smok­ing up­take and help more New Zealan­ders give up.

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