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Growing black market tobacco problem

WIN Party Media Release 08.12.2005

Growing black market tobacco problem

Black market New Zealand grown and processed tobacco is becoming more readily available for those who know where to source it.

A WIN Party investigation into the New Zealand black market industry recently sourced a kilogram of locally grown and processed tobacco on sale in Auckland for $150, which in price equates to around a quarter of the regular retail price of commercially available, legal tobacco.

Comparison of the black market tobacco with several brands of legal tobacco revealed an insignificant difference in quality. The black market tobacco moisture content was slightly higher but there was negligible difference in fineness of cut, and taste and smell when smoked.

"New Zealand's tobacco tax rate is one of the highest in the world and government justifies its high taxing of tobacco as a means of deterring people from taking up smoking and forcing those who smoke to quit", says WIN Party spokesperson Dave Clarke.

"When government greed pushes the price of a commodity outside of the reach of the average wage earner, people look for cheaper alternatives, and when there's a demand for cheaper alternatives, entrepreneurs who can see an easy way of making a quick dollar, will find a means of supplying".

"The growth of the black market tobacco industry in this country is definitely on the increase and it's certainly having an effect upon retail tobacco sales".

"The Health Ministry and anti-smoking lobby claim smoker numbers and rates of smoking are on the decline but recent Statistics NZ and AC Nielsen figures reveal otherwise.

"Smoker numbers have remained static over the past two years and retail tobacco sales and government revenue take have increased".

"High tobacco tax is creating 'crime', as more and more people become involved in the lucrative black market trade and we are going to need more and more law enforcement resources committed to fighting what in reality is a government created problem".

"If government wants to eliminate smoking, then they must either ban tobacco, or implement positive education campaigns that create an environment that induces people to want to quit".

"Human nature dictates that high taxation, smoking bans and scaremongering will never deter people from taking up smoking or persuade smokers to quit. People will decide that for themselves and the majority will not be influenced by what government and anti-smoking zealots determine they should do".

ENDS

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