Topics: Health, Indigenous

New review on the impact of tobacco tax

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

A new review on the impact of tobacco tax is being commissioned by the Minister of Health and is being welcomed by smoke-free groups.

Giving up smoking continues to be one of the hardest addictions to overcome.

Michael Mosen has been smoking since he was 11-years-old and says his habit is an expensive one.

“At the end of the day you toss up between a bread and a milk with your $20 or a packet of cigarettes.  Now they have gone up two dollars you need to find that extra two dollars to buy that packet of smokes so you're either hanging out for a smoke or hanging for a feed”.

The cost of cigarettes and its effect on Māori and Pacific Islanders will be a key area in a review on tobacco tax.  Currently 35 percent of Māori adults and 24 percent of Pacific Islanders are smokers.

CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora, Lance Norman says, “We support tax increases because that stops young people starting to smoke but we also are aware that tax increases are a burden for whānau because any tax on the whānau is tax on the food budget and the rent budget or the school budget”.

Board member of the Lakes District Health, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says people who have an addiction will want their fix even if the price of cigarettes goes up.

“It's an expensive habit and what we should be trying to do is, first of all, prevent people or ask people to tell them about the dangers of smoking so they don't event start, and then making sure we have all the support in place for those who wish to quit”.

With just seven years to go, if NZ hopes to achieve being smoke-free by 2025 more work needs to be done.