Call for tobacco tax to rise 20 per cent a year for three years

Researchers and tobacco control advocates are calling for tobacco tax to be increased by 20 per cent annually for three years, saying Smokefree 2025 will be Smokefree 2065 unless urgent Government action is taken.

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They say the tax on tobacco should go up by 20 per cent annually for three years. Source: Breakfast

The Government is currently raising tax on tobacco by 10 per cent on January 1 each year from this year until 2020.

Researchers and experts in tobacco control, led by the University of Otago, Wellington and Maori public health promotion group Hāpai te Hauora are pushing for an action plan to achieve the Government's target for New Zealand to be smokefree by 2025.

As well as the annual 20 per cent increases in tobacco tax, the group proposes the number of retail outlets that sell tobacco be dramatically reduced.

It also wants additives removed and nicotine content in tobacco products reduced.

It proposes a new policy to gradually increase the minimum purchase age over time, to create future "tobacco-free" generations, and wants a new minimum retail price for tobacco products.

"The plan includes a focus on interventions in areas that have not been addressed before - such as reducing the retail availability of tobacco, and reducing its appeal and addictiveness," said Dame Tariana Turia in launching the group's report.

The researchers say without changing the current approach, recent estimates predict the Smokefree goal will not be achieved by 2025 - and not until "beyond 2060" for Maori.

The group says proposals from Parliament's 2010 inquiry into the impacts of the tobacco industry have only partly been addressed, and Maori remain the worst affected by smoking, resulting in persisting and unacceptable health inequalities.