24 Apr 2012

$100 cigarette packs suggested

6:07 am on 24 April 2012

A Ministry of Health working paper suggests that increasing the cost of a packet of cigarettes to $100 by 2020 would help achieve a smoke-free country.

The paper includes Institute of Economic Research analysis of further use of excise tax increases as part of measures to achieve the smoke-free goal by 2025.

A 10% increase each year from 2013 would take the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes to $40 dollars by 2024 - a level not thought to be enough to reach the smoke-free target.

But with a 30 - 60% increase next year to kick start the transition, then 10% a year after that, a pack would cost about $100 dollars by 2020.

Lobby group Action on Smoking and Health director Ben Youdan says a rise of that magnitude would have an enormous impact.

"If nothing else was done, price would be the best tool that the Government have to try and reduce smoking rates."

Prime Minister John Key says he's not sure that approach is sustainable as it could create a black market for cigarettes.