New Zealand 'sparks up' cigarette tax

29th May 2012

New Zealand's government is looking to lead the way with avant-garde politics relating to smoking, announcing that it is to increase the tax on tobacco by a mammoth 40 per cent over the next four years.

This means that the price for an average 20 pack of cigarettes will cost 20 New Zealand dollars (approximately £9.60). Prices in the country, comparatively, are already some of the highest in the world.

Accordingly, this move is seen as a serious attempt to make New Zealand the first "smoke free" nation in the world.

The government is optimistic that this extraordinary hike, coupled with greater restrictions – from July, retailers will have to position cigarettes below the counter rather than having them on display – will help achieve this ambitious goal by 2025.

Fascinatingly, the Associated Press revealed that so committed is the government to "stubbing out" smoking that it considered elevating the price to an astonishing 100 New Zealand dollars (approximately £48).

According to statistics, the government's "anti-smoking" drive has weight behind it. The smoking rates among adults in the country have fallen from around 30 per cent in 1986 to roughly 20 per cent in 2012.

The country's Cancer Society applauded the announcement, explaining that there is evidence that tobacco price increases impact on smoking rates.

“We are rapidly moving towards a smoke free Aotearoa [Maori name for New Zealand] with today’s announcement of a substantial increase on the taxation of tobacco products," commented Skye Kimura, control adviser for the Cancer Society.

Fox Business has suggested that this strategy has been adopted, in part, to help the country achieve a budget surplus, but noted that the extra tax revenue will depend on smokers continuing to smoke at the same level irrespective of the anticipated price hike.

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