Tobacco tax increase aims to curb addiction in the new year

By Harata Brown

Although a tax increase on tobacco scheduled for the New Year will have smokers thinking twice about fuelling their addictions, anti-smoking advocates say stronger measures are needed to ensure Aotearoa New Zealand truly becomes Smokefree by 2025.

Zoey Hawke from the National Māori Tobacco Control Leadership Service knows too well the effects of smoking on whānau Māori, but she says the increase in cigarette prices isn't going to curb the habit.

January 1st will see a tobacco tax increase by 10%.  However the question is, will the initiative help stub it out?

Hawke believes the prices need to go up even further, "We actually need a bigger hike to ensure that Māori, more Māori are really driven to quit."

Māori are the largest demographic of smokers in New Zealand which has motivated Hone Harawira to make a change. He wants New Zealand Smokefree by 2025 but says the responsibility should also lie with tobacco companies.

The National Māori Tobacco Control Leadership Service says a further 20% tax increase is needed in order to reach the 2025 goal.