NEWS Smok­ers gouged from hip pocket

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - JOHN ROLFE

BIG Tobacco is prop­ping up its prof­its by sneak­ily rais­ing ci­garette prices way be­yond in­creases in ex­cise.

Can­cer Coun­cil re­search re­veals the pre-tax take on a pack of Winfield cig­a­rettes has soared by nearly 150 per cent since 2010. For JPS smokes, the jump is more than 180 per cent. This com­pares to con­sumer price in­fla­tion (CPI) of just six per cent in that time.

Win­nie Blues now cost $33.65 up from $12.95 at the start of the decade.

It is rel­a­tively com­mon knowl­edge that the tax take has been surg­ing — in the case of Win­fields from $7.73 to $20.82 — so too has price ex­clud­ing ex­cise.

Re­tail­ers and maker Bri­tish Amer­i­can Tobacco Aus­tralia’s (BATA) com­bined rev­enue per pack has grown from $5.22 to $12.83, the Can­cer Coun­cil cal­cu­lates, a rise of 146 per cent.

Had the pre-tax pack price only risen in line with CPI, Win­nie Blues would be nearly $7 cheaper. The gouge is de­liv- er­ing re­tail­ers and BATA an ex­tra $2500 a year for each pack-a-day Win­fields smoker.

JPS cost $30.85 ver­sus $10.95 in 2010, dur­ing which time re­tail­ers and Im­pe­rial Tobacco Aus­tralia’s (ITA) cut has risen from $3.40 to $9.57, a rise of 182 per cent.

An in­crease in line with CPI would see JPS smok­ers pay­ing $5.50 less than now. In­stead a per­son smok­ing a pack a day is pay­ing $2000 ex­tra per year.

“It’s a dirty trick by these com­pa­nies,” said Can­cer Coun­cil Aus­tralia pub­lic pol­icy di­rec­tor Paul Gro­gan.

BATA de­clined to com­ment on its prof­its but said “ad­vo­cacy from groups such as the Can­cer Coun­cil” had added $13 a pack to Win­nie Blues since 2010 while not­ing its man­u­fac­tur­ing and op­er­a­tion costs had in­creased.

ITA also said its costs had risen, ex­cise has “sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased” and that it had “a re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­liver share­holder re­turns ac­cord­ing to ex­pec­ta­tions”. Philip Mor­ris said it was cov­er­ing costs and main­tain­ing its re­spon­si­bil­ity to share­hold­ers.

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