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Parliament passes historic tobacco excise tax rises

Hon Tariana Turia

Associate Minister of Health

16 October 2012

Media Statement

Parliament passes historic tobacco excise tax rises

The price of cigarettes is now set to rise to over $20 a pack over the next four years, as Parliament this afternoon passed the Government’s promised Budget tobacco excise increases into law.

Associate Health Minister Hon Tariana Turia today welcomed the new legislation which will further drive down smoking rates to save lives and improve health.

Mrs Turia said “smoking continues to be by far New Zealand’s single leading cause of avoidable death and disease, and it is great to have the strong cross-party support for such an important measure.”

“These tobacco excise increases will save lives. They send a strong signal that smoking just isn’t worth it”, Mrs Turia said.

The new law will raise the tobacco excise tax by a series of cumulative 10 per cent increases coming in on 1 January in each of the next four years, 2013-2016. This is expected to lift the price of a typical pack of cigarettes from about $14.30 today to potentially $20 or more per pack in 2016.

“I know that this will hit smokers in the pocket, but I am not prepared to sit back while another generation becomes addicted to smoking. We know that raising the tobacco excise is the most powerful tool we have to stop children taking up smoking and to encourage smokers to quit”, Mrs Turia said.

“And we know those price rises will be even more effective because we are backing them up with a comprehensive tobacco control programme providing better help for smokers to quit.”

This includes cessation support services like the Quitline and treatments like nicotine patches, lozenges and gum, and also prescription medicines to help people quit. All the proven treatments and quit smoking medicines are fully subsidised.

“I am particularly worried by the much higher smoking rates among Māori and Pacific people. My hope is that smokers take the opportunity to contact the Quitline, or one of the other options available including Aukati Kaipaipa and specialist Pacific services, before the next wave of price rises hits next year.”

“The Government’s expectation is that all health-care professionals will also be providing advice to quit smoking as a routine part of their clinical practice. This is one of the Government’s six priority health targets – aiming for 95% of hospitalised smokers and 90% of all smokers seen in general practice to be given the potentially life-saving advice.”

Budget 2012 also provided $20 million over the next four years for a new innovation fund, Pathway to Smoke-Free 2025, for programmes to discourage smoking uptake and help more New Zealanders give up.

“These measures will help improve the health of New Zealanders, reduce the long-term burden on the health system, and contribute to the Government’s goal of making New Zealand smoke-free by 2025,” Mrs Turia said.


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