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Manufacturers’ reports show tobacco market slowly dying

Manufacturers’ reports show tobacco market slowly dying in New Zealand

Smokefree Coalition and Endsmoking NZ media release 27 September 2015

Returns supplied to the Ministry of Health by New Zealand tobacco manufacturers show a drop of 3.8 percent in the quantity of tobacco and cigarettes released per adult in 2014 versus 2013. From 2013 to 2014, the number of standard cigarettes smoked per adult in New Zealand fell to 733.7, an all-time low. Sales per single cigarette decreased from 1886 million to 1858.5 million, totalling $1543 million dollars in lost revenue for tobacco companies (calculated at $0.83 per cigarette).

On average cigarette consumption has declined 6.3 percent per year equating to a whopping 23 percent decline in consumption since 2010. In the previous 10 years (2000-2010) the rate per adult decreased just 2.4 percent annually.

Endsmoking NZ’s Associate Professor Marewa Glover says the figures show smokers are clearly reacting to price and quitting as much for smoking’s impact on their wallets as on their health.

“This drop in consumption is unprecedented and shows the 10 percent annual tax increases commencing in 2010, and due to finish in 2016, have been a very successful public health measure. We can expect tobacco consumption to continue to decline as smoking becomes increasingly expensive.”

She says further evidence that price has been a driver in the fall of consumption rates is that smokers are switching to cheaper brands in droves. Pall Mall has doubled in popularity since 2007 and sales of Imperial's low-priced John Player brand, now the third most popular, rose from 2.5 million to 210 million single cigarette sales over the same period.

Smokefree Coalition Board Member and Endsmoking NZ’s Dr George Laking says that though the falling figures are encouraging, the sheer volume of cigarettes sold each year reveals the massive scale of big tobacco’s assault on public health in New Zealand.

"Reading through the list of the millions of cigarette sticks sold annually in our country reminds me of its counterpart, the roll-call of dead and dying from smoking-related illnesses."

“Cigarettes kill up to 5000 New Zealanders a year and are akin to bullets and bombs in a war on peoples' health. These sales figures should be posted on the wall of every clinical department in the country as a reminder of the battle we face to be a smokefree nation by 2025."

Tobacco product manufacturers' and importers returns to the Ministry of Health are required annually by the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990. Returns to the year ending 31 December 2014 are available athttp://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/tobacco-control/tobacco-returns/tobacco-returns-2014.

ENDS

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