15 Mar 2018

Review to weigh up tobacco tax

3:53 pm on 15 March 2018

The government is reviewing the consequence of rising tobacco taxes, including increases in crime, and the financial impact on smokers.

Tobacco and cigarettes

Photo: 123rf

The evaluation will help determine whether the government continues to increase the tax, or whether it is too high.

Tobacco products rose by 10 percent in January for the second year in a row, and will continue to rise each year until 2020.

That means a pack of 20 cigarettes would in 2018 cost about $27 to $30 dollars.

Smoking rates have declined as the taxes have increased - the number of daily smokers have dropped from about 16 percent in 2012 to about 14 percent last year.

But there are also growing complaints from dairy owners who say they are being targeted due to the high prices of cigarettes.

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa said other unintended consequences of tax increases would also be investigated including illicit trade, the financial cost for smokers and the impact on their families.

"It would be premature to comment on whether the tax increases should continue until I have full information on the impact of this policy," she said.

It's estimated the review, commissioned by the Ministry of Health, will be completed by the end of the year.