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Reform tobacco tax to help fund quitting

Monday, February 07, 2005

Reform tobacco tax to help fund quitting

The Government should use the revenue from tobacco tax to help fund quitting programmes, according to University of Otago public health researchers Drs Nick Wilson and George Thomson.

In an article published in the international journal /Social Science and //Medicine/, Drs Wilson and Thomson say tobacco taxes are the most cost effective way of reducing smoking and saving lives. But they report these taxes can also contribute to financial hardship.

The researchers detail Australian studies showing spending on tobacco reduces the amount of money available for basic household necessities such as clothing, footwear and food. New Zealand research shows tobacco spending reduces the money available for basic necessities by 14 percent for some low-income households.

Drs Wilson and Thomson suggest it would be more ethical if the government did far more to support quitting - and use tobacco tax revenue to fund this.

"Using tobacco tax revenue for tobacco control programmes would reduce the injustice of using smokers as a captive revenue source, where the means of capture (addiction to tobacco) is extremely dangerous."

The researchers say government should also consider making the whole tax and benefit system more supportive of low-income New Zealanders as these are the group in which smokers are over-represented.

A copy of the full article can be obtained in PDF format from the authors.

ENDS

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