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Thread: More tax on smokers?

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    Default More tax on smokers?

    More tax urged to put off smokers
    The Dominion Post | Monday, 3 September 2007

    Public health experts are calling for cigarette tax to increase by up to 10 per cent every year to double the cost of cigarettes within 10 years.

    A report by Otago University and Massey University researchers, commissioned by lobby groups Smokefree Coalition and Ash, says cigarette consumption has fallen as prices have risen but there has been "no real increase" in tobacco taxes since 2000.

    Substantial tax rises should be scheduled at least every two or three years "but preferably annually from 2008, contributing to an expected halving of smoking prevalence in the next decade", it says.

    The increases should be about 10 per cent a year or 20 or 30 per cent every two or three years.

    The report says the average amount each smoker spends on tobacco products is about $2000 a year and about $1400 is tax revenue. Tobacco excise revenues amount to about $1 billion a year - just under 2 per cent of total tax revenues.

    University of Otago public health senior research fellow George Thomson said an essential part of increasing taxes was using the revenue to fund quitting programmes and reducing the number of people who started smoking.

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    Dollars make sense to smokers
    Page 1 of 2 5:00AM Thursday September 06, 2007

    Health Minister Pete Hodgson was all bluster and balderdash when asked if he would increase tobacco taxes, as recommended this week by public health experts at the Wellington School of Medicine and Massey University. "Tobacco control is a high priority for this Labour-led Government," he burbled. "It is the largest single cause of preventable death in New Zealand." This was hardly a ringing endorsement of the experts' proposal, or an indication Mr Hodgson was inclined to move in that direction. As such, it suggested the Government has only a hazy notion of how to reduce the rate of smoking.

    At first glance, the experts' proposal seems radical. It foresees a steady increase of tobacco taxes until, within a decade, the cost of cigarettes has risen from the current $10.50 or so for a packet of 20 to about $25. Lifting prices, say the researchers, is the most proven effective way of lowering tobacco use. There is good reason to think they are right. Indeed, Clearing the Smoke, the Ministry of Health's five-year plan for tobacco control, released in 2004, placed price increases at the top of a list of effective anti-smoking measures, based on strong scientific evidence. It was, the document said, "probably the most important single intervention to reduce smoking initiation".

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