Police need to record the number of robberies in which tobacco is taken, the Act Party says.

The call comes after a Christchurch dairy was on the weekend robbed for the eighth time in seven months.

Three people entered the Night 'n Day in Woolston about 2.30am on Sunday. One of two staff members was pinned down with a handgun held against her head.

No one was injured, with the offenders taking cash and cigarettes.

Act Party leader David Seymour. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham.
Act Party leader David Seymour. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham.

In October Police said the black market for tobacco was fuelling dairy robberies, and there have been similar concerns in other areas of the country.

Residents of Whangarei Heads even launched a Givealittle page to fund a CCTV camera after repeated ram raids on a local service station.

Act leader David Seymour said today he had recently requested from Police information on the number of tobacco-related burglaries.

That request was declined, with police informing Seymour that crime statistics did not distinguish whether tobacco products were taken in burglaries or robberies.

"Tobacco taxes have more than doubled in the past five years and there are, sometimes violent, robberies of the now $300 bricks of cigarettes happening every other day.

"It is extraordinary that the police are not recording whether tobacco was a factor in a robbery."

The Government last year passed legislation to hike the price of cigarettes to about $30 a pack by 2020, despite being condemned by New Zealand First and Act.

The tax on tobacco will rise by 10 per cent on January 1 each year for the next three years. That is expected to bring in an extra $425 million in tax over that period.


About 15 per cent of adult New Zealanders smoke. The smoking rate increases to 35 per cent for Maori, and 22 per cent for Pacific people.

The increases are part of measures designed to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025, and received strong support from health professionals and advocacy groups.

Professor Nick Wilson, from the University of Otago's public health department, told Parliament before the law change that increasing the cost of tobacco was "one of the most powerful things that can be done" to improve the health of the population.

However, Seymour said "the Government's policy of taxing tobacco hard has made dairies and service stations into targets for theft, but it has not significantly reduced smoking rates".