24 Jul 2018

Tobacco tax: 'Take a breath, have a review' - ASH

10:11 am on 24 July 2018

Anti-smoking advocates say a review of tobacco taxation is needed, after the acting prime minister said the goal to be smokefree by 2025 was meaningless.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said there also needed to be more money for smoking cessation.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters told Morning Report today the 2025 policy was a mindless statement made by politicians and a PR nightmare.

Mr Peters also said assaults and murders of dairy owners and staff were happening because of rising tobacco prices.

"The answer can't be to just keep driving the tax up with respect to cigarettes smoking and tobacco and argue that you're going to be smoke-free by 2025."

The previous government set a goal of fewer than 5 percent of New Zealanders smoking by 2025.

But Mr Peters said less than 3 percent of tax revenue from tobacco was spent on minimising smoking, and the target would not be achieved.

ASH programme manager Boyd Broughton told the programme the reduction in smoking while tax had risen had not been as great as expected.

"There needs to be a review and see what's happening, and can it be done better? But also our position is that if you're going to drive the price up on tobacco, then the safer alternatives need to stay at a more affordable and accessible price."

Mr Broughton said vaping should be made more available, while keeping it out of the hands of young non-smokers.

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