Your packet of cigarettes just got more expensive from today

Source: 1News

A pack of cigarettes could cost you more than $40 from today as the new year marks the next price rise as part of an annual tax-driven increase introduced in the 2016 budget.

This compared to costing nearly $38 in average for a pack of 25 cigarettes from March 2018 according to Stats NZ.

Tobacco products experienced a 7.7 percent increase in price in 2018/19 but is expected to rise by around 11 percent from today.  

Increasing the cost annually is all part of the Government's mission to have less than five per cent of New Zealanders smoking by 2025. 

According to the National Health Survey, one in eight Kiwis still smoke daily but the number is decreasing. 

However,  Māori, a Hāpai Te Hauora said in a statement that despite the proportion of smokers dropping significantly, the number of Māori smokers is reducing far less rapidly than Pākehā smokers.

They say positive effects of the tax hikes appear to be disproportionately in favour to the more privileged groups. 

"Put simply there are far, far fewer dairies that supply cigarettes in Remuera, Auckland’s wealthiest suburb, than in Manurewa, its least wealthy suburb, and that pattern is nationwide," says Mihi Blair, spokesperson for the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service. 

Australian research suggests when tax increases are first introduced is when lower income smokers first quit but are more likely to relapse. 

Blair believes the Government needs to redistribute the tax from tobacco sales more effectively instead of punishing low income smokers. 

The Taxpayers Union spokesperson, Jordan Williams called the hikes a 'raid on the wallets of Māori,' says the Government should be helping fund smokeless alternatives like vaping. 

"If the Government made it easier for smokeless products like vapes and heated tobacco to be marketed, current smokers may be more likely to shift over, improving health outcomes and reducing the burden of tobacco excise on themselves and their families."