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Greens support new tobacco taxes - with conditions

9 May 2000

Greens support new tobacco taxes - with conditions

The Green Party supported today's tax rise on tobacco but in return have been given assurances by the government that they will investigate increasing state-funding for quit-smoking projects for Community Service Card holders.

Green Party Social Services Spokesperson Sue Bradford said she supported any measure that encouraged people to give up smoking but was very concerned that the new tax would hit poor people especially hard.

"It is a cruel paradox to tax the poorer members of our society on the most addictive of drugs without making the support and assistance - available to the more wealthy - available to them as well," she said.

"Poorer smokers are in a tight spot because tobacco is now very expensive and so are the quit-smoking programmes," she said.

"The Green Party have given our support for this measure on the understanding that the government will look seriously at a proposal from the Greens to fully fund quit-smoking programmes for Community Services Card holders," said Ms Bradford.

"Michael Cullen today told the Greens that the government would look favourably on such a proposal and I look forward to putting forward new ideas."

Ms Bradford said quit-smoking assistance was now essential for people on state support due to the highly addictive nature of nicotine.

She said preventative health was a core policy of the Green Party and quit-smoking programmes were a good example of this.

"Unemployed people on the community wage (single, under 25) earn $123.86 per week - $7 per week extra for seven packs of cigarettes is a huge increase in tax and people in this situation can't afford expensive quit-smoking aids like nicotine replacements," said Ms Bradford

"The Greens strongly support reducing smoking, but our concern is for people on low incomes. We would have found this motion very difficult to support without this assurance from the government," she said.

Ends

Sue Bradford MP: 04 470 6720, 025 243 4239 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 021 110 1133


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