Good News Tobacco Tax Not Hiked Again
“It’s good news the Minister of Finance didn’t use this Budget to hike tobacco tax, as has been the case for the past four years,” says Nancy Loucas, Director of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).
Ms Loucas’ comments follow the Government not announcing any further tobacco tax increases, following four consecutive excise duty increases announced in the 2016 Budget. The last annual tobacco tax increase of 11.5%, on 1 January this year, took an average pack of 25 cigarettes to over $41.
“AVCA does not support tobacco tax hikes. Too often they’ve been used as a revenue gathering exercise and always hit the vulnerable the hardest. They’re terribly regressive and I would argue have had little impact on the likes of Maori with 31% still smoking.
“Sure, we’ve seen New Zealand’s overall smoking rates fall to a record 12.5% low, but that’s largely due to education and the arrival of vaping.
“We support the Government investing in campaigns via its own Health Promotion Agency to encourage smokers to switch to vaping. However, we don’t support the Government effectively taxing our poorest households more. Thank goodness that has stopped,” says Ms Loucas.
AVCA believes education remains key to reducing smoking rates, as does ensuring the appeal and availability of vaping for adult smokers is not lost with restrictions proposed in the Government’s bill to regulate vaping currently before the Health Select Committee.
“The Government is right to stop harming smokers. It would’ve made nominal difference to our smoking rates, inflicting more pain on our poorest households. Instead, it now needs to deliver progressive vaping regulation to ensure more Kiwi smokers make the switch to something that’s considerably less harmful to both their health and back-pockets,” says Nancy Loucas.
AVCA was formed in 2016 by vapers across New Zealand wanting their voices heard in local and central government. All members are former smokers who promote vaping to help smokers quit - a much less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco products. AVCA does not have any affiliation or vested interest in industry - tobacco, pharmaceutical and/or the local vaping manufacturing or retail sectors.