Smokers hit in the pocket with another 10 per cent price hike in taxes say they are being prompted to either quit completely or switch to vaping.

The January 1 price increase means a packet of 20 cigarettes will cost more than $20 and some brands more than $25.

The excise tax increase is part of a series of annual increases, the last which will be on January 1, 2020, which is part of Government's drive for a smoke-free nation.

In the face of another price hike, many users are switching to vaping as a cheaper option while others are doing so mainly for the "health benefits".


This included a Tauranga central woman in her 50s who said she was recently diagnosed with emphysema, which came as a huge shock and was a major "wake-up call" for her.

As part of her treatment, she was now on Champix, a medication to help smokers quit, and on her doctor's advice was also vaping as an alternative to smoking, she said.

"I was a heavy smoker for 40 years and spending about $150 a week on tobacco and my intention is to give up altogether and vaping is the start of the process to do so."

Another long-time smoker, who wished only to be known as "Teddy", said he started smoking when he was 12 and tried to give up but found it too difficult.

The 34-year-old local said he, his partner and their friends had all switched to vaping about 18 months ago because of "health benefits".

Another recent vaping convert from Greerton said she had smoked cigarettes for about 30 years and spent about $260 a week maintaining her "disgusting" habit.

"I have tried to give up several times but not seriously. But I'm determined to do so this by mid-year and switching to vaping is a good way to help wean myself off smoking."

Shosha vaping store manager Harinder Singh said more people were switching to vaping than ever due to the huge cost reduction savings and the health benefits.


Depending upon on the frequency of use, most vapers could generally pay $60 a week less than it cost to buy cigarettes or tobacco, he said.

Mihi Blair from Hapai Te Hauora Maori Public Health said the organisation was urging smokers particularly wahine to vape as a way of kicking the habit.

"Whanau who are wanting to learn more about vaping or going smoke-free should contact Quitline," Blair said.

Quitline was expecting an influx of calls and texts for support this month.

Quitline's communication manager Calvin Cochran said people contacting Quitline often said their key motivation was to "save money".

Cochran said 10 per cent of those enrolled in a Quitline programme used vaping devices to help them quit cigarettes, a move Quitline supported.

In 2018 1448 people from the Bay of Plenty area contacted Quitline, compared to 2171 last year.

A total of 681 people from across New Zealand also called Quitline from December 23 and December 30, including 22 on Christmas Day and 152 on December 30.