Tobacco prices jump after NY tax hike

By Cassandra Mason

Photo / File
Photo / File

A 10 per cent tax hike on tobacco introduced today will help more Kiwis escape a "creeping death", anti-smoking advocates say.

Quitline has had a surge in activity ahead of today's changes with people desperate to quite to save money.

Tax increases in January 2012 and 2013 saw a 14.6 per cent increase in cigarette prices and a significant impact on the smoking population.

Today's hike is also expected to give many more smokers the push they need.

"Smoking is expensive and it needs to be," Quitline chief executive Paula Snowden said.

"The cost of tobacco is a big issue for people and when it goes up it prompts hundreds of smokers to seek help to quit ... Smoking tobacco is a powerful addiction, a creeping death that steals lives and robs families of health and well-being."

In 2013 a pack of 20 cigarettes cost between $14 and $18.40 and a 30g pouch of loose tobacco ranged from $29.90 to $35.90

How much retail prices soar this year will be decided by the tobacco companies.

January is already a busy time for Quitline as people make New Year's resolutions to quit and prices go up.

Quitline communications manager Sarah Woods said the number of calls coming in quadrupled when the office reopened after Christmas.

"People were talking about the price increase and the stress involved and wanted to make sure they could order their patches and lozenges in advance."

Health, family and money were the three main motivators when smokers decided to quit, she said.

"It's more socially unacceptable since all the smoke free policies came into effect. But there are still people who live in lower socioeconomic areas where a lot of people still do smoke."

The 2013 census showed the overall smoking rate dropped from 20.7 per cent in 2006 to 15.1 per cent last year.

Quitline has also launched a "scary" new advertising campaign called "The Last Dance" which shows a dying man getting out of bed to dance with his partner one last time as their child watches on.

It's hoped the ad will highlight the damage smoking can do to a family, Ms Woods said.

Tax increases are part of the Government's plan to be Smokefree by 2025, which will see smoking rates dropped below 5 per cent.

- APNZ

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