30 Aug 2010

Tobacco sales down since rise in excise

1:04 pm on 30 August 2010

Tobacco sales are down dramatically in both supermarkets and dairies since a sharp increase in excise in April.

An anti-tobacco group says sales have fallen by 15% in supermarkets.

And the group representing dairies and grocery stores says its members are reporting a drop of 11% in tobacco sales.

The price increases mean a packet of 20 cigarettes costs about $11 for leading brands and roll your own tobacco about $40 for a 50g packet.

The Food and Grocery Council says supermarkets command about 20% of the market and dairy and convenience stores about 55%.

The New Zealand Association of Dairy Grocery and Small Businesses, does not attribute the drop in sales only to increases in excise.

President Neil Patel says there is usually a drop in sales during winter.

Tobacconist Richard Green from the Association of Community Retailers also questions the drop in tobacco sales.

He reports sales are up and that there appears to be a shift by smokers towards buying from a tobacconist.

Parliament voted in April to raise the excise on cigarettes by 10% and on loose tobacco by 24%.

Two further price rises were also set in place.

The End Smoking New Zealand group claims the reduction in cigarette sales could potentially save several hundred lives this year.