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Major UC Smoking Survey Shows Tax Rise On Cigarettes Is Work

Major UC Smoking Survey Shows Tax Rise On Cigarettes Is Working

May 31, 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) survey has released initial findings which strongly suggest the Government’s tax rise on cigarettes is effective in terms of reducing smoking.

The research, directed by UC professor Randolph Grace and Dr Anthony McLean, and Dr Murray Laugesen (Health NZ), shows that the Government’s hike in tobacco tax has also triggered a 15 percent drop in reported cigarette sales. Today is World Smokefree Day.

UC’s cost of smoking study studied the effects of the tobacco tax increase from January 1 this year. The Government has increased tobacco excise by 10 percent annually from 2010 through to 2016.

A total of 357 smokers aged 18 years and over were interviewed in the UC survey, the first wave prior to December last year before the most recent 10 percent tobacco tax increase took effect.

Two thirds of the smokers smoked factory made cigarettes and 34 percent smoked roll-your-own.  Smokers were asked their preferred cigarette pack or pouch size, how much it cost and how many cigarettes they smoked daily. Roll-your-own tobacco smokers were also asked how many days each pouch lasted. 

Smokers also completed questionnaires which measured the strength of their psychological addiction to smoking, Professor Grace says.

``When we contacted smokers in the second wave in February and March 2013, 226 agreed to be re-interviewed. Sixteen had quit smoking. Factory-made cigarette smokers were more likely to have quit than roll-your-own smokers.

``Those who had not quit smoking decreased cigarettes smoked a day by an average 2.1 per day from 14.2 to 12.1 cigarettes a day, a 15 percent decrease.

``Respondents also reported significantly less addiction to smoking in the second wave of interviews compared with those interviewed at the end of last year.

``Those that had relatively more reduction in strength of addiction also reported that they smoked fewer cigarettes a day and were more likely to have quit earlier this year.

``The results show that the smokers are smoking less and spending less on cigarettes.  The data suggest that the Government tax rise is likely to be having a beneficial effect in terms of reducing smoking. Our survey provides some reasons to be optimistic that the Government tax increase is successful in its goal of reducing smoking,’’ Professor Grace says.

Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than five million deaths a year and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than eight million deaths annually by 2030.

Smoking causes about 25 percent of all cancer deaths in New Zealand and one out of every 10 deaths worldwide. Around 5000 New Zealanders die each year from smoking-related illnesses including about 350 people dying from second-hand smoke inhalation.

Second-hand smoke, where non-smokers breathe in the smoke of others around them, can cause heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, asthma and the worsening of asthma symptoms, eye and nasal irritation and nasal sinus cancer.

Exposure of non-smoking women to second-hand smoke during pregnancy can reduce foetal growth, and is also associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The UC study was funded by the End Smoking NZ Trust and the Canterbury Community Trust. UC provided a summer scholarship student to help with the survey.


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