Topics: Health, Politics

Tax breaks for smokeless Tobacco sticks “out of order” – Cancer Society   

By Talisa Kupenga

A Tobacco giant says it wants a tax break for its smokeless tobacco sticks which it claims are less harmful to consumers. But the Cancer Society says this is out of order if the product's nicotine levels remain the same and just as addictive.

Cancer Society manager of advocacy and wellbeing Shayne Nahu (Te Arawa, Tainui) says "in some ways they're wanting to say 'hey this product is less harmful than our original product so lets help you switch to that' but it's still an addictive product."

Philip Morris International NZ spokesperson Peata Melbourne says ""Nicotine isn't the problem the tobacco is the issue. When you burn tobacco that's what triggers the real problems."

Marlboro makers Philip Morris International want to launch its smokeless product in NZ first and have it classed separate to vapes and cigarettes.

The company says the stick heats tobacco instead of burning it making it less harmful.

Mr Nahu says "the fact that this multibillion dollar international company thinks it needs a tax break to do the right thing is out of order." 

Ms Melbourne says "we have our own research and 27 other independent researchers have assessed that and support those findings."

Te Ao Māori asked Associate Health Minister what she thought about claims by the company that the research showed less harm attributed to their smokeless product.

Minister Jenny Salesa says "there are various other groups that have told us and the consensus seems to be that smokeless tobacco and vaping products are indeed less harmful this is one of the reasons we are introducing legislation on vaping."

The Government has no current plans to introduce exemptions for it's tobacco excise policy but it would be considering seperate categories for different products.

Minister Salesa says "I'm expecting at the end of this month or early April legislation to come through PCO so I will actually go through the process of regulating vaping and smokeless tobacco very soon."

Smokeless cigarettes/tobacco sticks are already available in Korea and Japan.