Topic: Health

300 smokers call it quits after tobacco tax hike

By Oriini Kaipara
  • Northland
  • Auckland
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Smoking cigarettes and tobacco just got a lot more expensive with a 10% tax increase coming into force this morning. That means, the average cost for a packet of cigarettes is around $25.

While some Smokefree agencies are supportive they say government measures don't go far enough.

Andrew Slater, CEO Quitline says, “So, so far today we've had over 100 people call us by lunchtime looking to enrol and get support for quitting smoking. We'll expect to see that sort of hit around 300 people by the end of today.”

The Māori tobacco advocacy service says while the law change seems unfair to Māori families it is for their benefit.

Zoe Hawke, General Manager - Tobacco Advocacy Service, Hāpai Te Hauora says, "Having your health will be more financially beneficial in the end. You don't want to be mauiui, you don't want to end up in hospital with your whanau suffering and being sad that you're sick."

But Hāpai Te Hauora claims the tax increase doesn't go far enough. They're pushing for a 20 percent increase.

Hawke says, “When it's 20 percent, it may be at odd times during the year so people aren't preparing for it then the shock of it helps people then to start planning for being smokefree.”

But, the rising cost of tobacco isn't the key reason why many are opting to quit the habit.

Slater says, “What we know from our research over the last 12 months is around 45% of people actually quit smoking for their health followed by family and cost was the third reason.”

Berdie Milner, Quitline Advisor says, “It deteriorates your health as well as the health of your family. It's time to fix it and we can help you.”

The 10 percent tax increase will apply each year until 2020 in order to fulfil the government's goal of a smokefree New Zealand.