Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Proposed Smoking Law Is Payday For The Gangs

Parliament is yet again playing into the hands of gangs, and boosting their place as the third player in the cigarette market with new legislation targeting smokers and dairy owners.

The first reading of Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill is expected later today. The Bill creates an absurd, harmful, and experimental regime for the supply of legal cigarettes.

The Bill proposes three key changes: drastically slash the number of tobacco retail outlets, impose nonsensical new age restrictions, and implement the world’s lowest limits on nicotine.

"This legislation is a huge win for the gangs," says Union spokesperson Jordan Williams.

“First they hike the taxes to more than four times the actual health costs of smoking – turning smokers into cash cows and leading to the very smash and grabs on dairies we warned about. Now they want to limit nicotine so smokers will need to smoke many times the amount of tar (and tax) for the same hit.”

"We know smokers won't smoke low-nicotine cigarettes; the nicotine is the entire reason they smoke. We already have low-nicotine cigarettes in New Zealand and no one smokes them — they're called herbal cigarettes. It is far more likely that those smokers who haven't already been pushed to the black-market from exorbitant excise taxes will finally make the shift to tax-free, unregulated, and high-nicotine cigarettes."

"Right now, around 15% of smoked tobacco in New Zealand is from the black-market. These proposed regulatory taxes will see our members who smoke visiting tinny houses just for a full-bodied cigarette. It will turn lawful smokers into tinny house users. Talk about playing into the gangs' hands – who don’t pay tax, import illegal cigarettes, and certainly won’t be checking age and IDs.”

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

“Dairy owners are right to be concerned. The Bill will cut the number of retailers from more than 6000 down to approximately 500. That is only a fraction of the number of postcodes in the country leaving many communities without a tobacco retailer – except the local mob."

Also in the legislation is a plan to create a 'smokefree generation' by banning anyone born after 1 January 2009 from ever buying cigarettes.

"This is simply absurd. By 2040, a 31 year old will be slapped with a conviction and a $50,000 fine for supplying their 30 year old mate with a cigarette. We have tried prohibition in the past with many harmful substances, including alcohol, and know that people continue to use these substances in a far more dangerous, less regulated manner."

"The Green Party is right to have raised concerns with this legislation because like us they know that cigarettes are better legal, taxed, and regulated than they are in a raging black-market that only benefits the gangs. We look forward to them sticking to principle and opposing the Bill at first reading."

In 2019 the black-market for cigarettes resulted in $287.4 million in lost tax revenue. Less accessibility of the legal product in terms of price and regulation sends people towards this illegal market where we have no way of avoiding the worst outcomes.

"It's time for the Government to go back to the drawing board and rethink the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan. After all, when smokers aren't paying for their own healthcare costs through excise, it's the non-smoking taxpayer who will end up footing the bill."

Disclosure: 3.5% of the Taxpayers’ Union annual budget is from industry members, a subset of which includes the tobacco industry – who are among New Zealand’s largest taxpayers.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On How Climate Change Threatens Cricket‘s Future

Well that didn’t last long, did it? Mere days after taking on what he called the “awesome responsibility” of being Prime Minister, Christopher Luxon has started blaming everyone else and complaining that he's inherited “economic vandalism on an unprecedented scale” - which is how most of us would describe his own coalition agreements, 100-Day Plan, and backdated $3 billion handout to landlords... More

Public Housing Futures: Christmas Comes Early For Landlords

New CTU analysis of the National & ACT coalition agreement has shown the cost of returning interest deductibility to landlords is an extra $900M on top of National’s original proposal. This is because it is going to be implemented earlier and faster, including retrospective rebates from April 2023. More

Green Party: Petition To Save Oil & Gas Ban

“The new Government’s plan to expand oil and gas exploration is as dangerous as it is unscientific. Whatever you think about the new government, there is simply no mandate to trash the climate. We need to come together to stop them,” says James Shaw. More

PSA: MFAT Must Reverse Decision To Remove Te Reo

MFAT's decision to remove te reo from correspondence before new Ministers are sworn in risks undermining the important progress the public sector has made in honouring te Tiriti. "We are very disappointed in what is a backward decision - it simply seems to be a Ministry bowing to the racist rhetoric we heard on the election campaign trail," says Marcia Puru. More




InfoPages News Channels


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.