Smokers struggle with price hikes

The 10 per cent increase in cigarette excise tax will be introduced on January 1. Photo: Chris Callinan.

Kylie Henley and her husband spend about $150 a week between them on cigarettes.

The Far North mother-of-three says another 10 per cent increase in cigarette excise tax, being introduced on January 1, will be hard to swallow.

"They are costing a fortune...I'm not a super heavy smoker but because it's an addiction, it makes it ten times harder."

In 2006, a 25-pack of cigarettes cost $11.95. From tomorrow, the price will be near $40.

Kylie says taxes were not the right way to encourage people to quit. She has smoked since she was 16 and cigarettes were less than $10 a pack.

"In my opinion, the higher the increase the more robberies that are going to occur... My husband works 70-hour weeks to pay for his habit/addiction and I think it is very unfair of the government to make them cost so much if they want the beneficiaries to stop then don't allow them to buy smokes don't punish the hard-working people."

A spokeswoman for British American Tobacco says 75 per cent of the purchase price of cigarettes now went to the government in tax.

The increases are part of measures to reduce the number of New Zealand smokers, which has dropped from 20 per cent of the general population in 2006/2007 to 16 per cent.

Researcher Jess Berentson-Shaw, of think tank The Workshop said it did work, alongside other effective policies.

"Policies that include freely available and effective quit services that are tailored to the needs of different groups," she says.

"We must however be cognisant of the impact a blunt instrument like tax has on equity. If the greatest impact on reducing smoking rates are for those who smoke least then policy-makers need to commit to investing in tools that empower and enable those most impacted by smoking. For young Māori women for example does tax work in the same way as for Pākehā?

"Given they have the highest rate of smoking what investments are we making alongside tax increases to empower them to quit and even better still not start? What do these young women say they need? What works for them? Are we committing to ensuring they have rates as low as other groups?"

Tim Barnett, chief executive of budgeting advisers' support organisation  FinCap, agreed increasing the price was just one method of tackling smoking.

"There is certainly evidence from financial mentors that the sheer cost of smoking - given the cost of the necessities of life - can be the trigger for people to quit.

"Of course it is very tough to be increasing prices for a habit which many people find near impossible to break. So it is vital that the cost of breaking the habit can be kept as low and as attractive as possible to make it as easy as possible to quit – including a place for vaping.

"That's as important as the taxation approach."

Another smoker, Crystal Sinclair, said she smoked because it relieved her depression "and handling two young children.

"But with increases [it] makes it not very affordable to the point I will have to quit because of it."

She spent about $170 a week on smoking at the moment.

Tash Cotterill-Haenga, meanwhile, says she would consider switching to roll-you-own tobacco to save money. "I'm not a heavy smoker."

-Story by Susan Edmunds, www.stuff.co.nz


4 Comments

rogue

Posted on 01-01-2019 12:51 | By dave4u

you must stand in the mirror every day singing....Im perfect in every way

the black market

Posted on 01-01-2019 12:48 | By dave4u

will flourish as contraband comes into the country and in 6 years we will all be smoking pot at a 10th of the price think the govt needs to wake up vapeing has more baddies for you than a fag and let the oldies smoke with a reduced price so we all die sooner and free up the housing market. Hope we go sugar free that will stuff everyone when anything with sugar goes up 10% every 6 months.

Decision

Posted on 01-01-2019 09:01 | By rogue

Choice? Does someone hold a gun to your head & make you smoke? I believe it is freewill that makes you smoke. I choose not to smoke , therefore I don’t. I choose not to be an alcoholic, therefore I limit my drinking. I choose not to be fat, therefore I eat a balanced diet & exercise properly. Freewill + Choices = Stupid; or Freewill + Choices = SMART

Smokefree NZ by 2025

Posted on 01-01-2019 08:43 | By SonnyJim

The message has not reached every smoker? A smoke-free NZ was initiated eight years ago so no fags in the shops after year 2025. It’s a case of stock up large now or start the weening process because in 6 years it’s a ’cold turkey’ cut-off. Go to www.quit.org.nz/‎ for help.

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