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Dairy industry head says tobacco tax increases making smokes more and more sought after by thieves

A dairy and convenience store industry representative has questioned how effective excise taxes are in cutting smoking rates, saying the higher price is encouraging robberies.

Tobacco products are becoming more and more attractive for thieves, Dave Hooker says. Source: Breakfast

Dave Hooker of the New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores, speaking today on TVNZ1's Breakfast, said increasing dairy robberies are essentially a by-product of increasing cigarette prices.

Simon Bridges says the governemnt's "soft" stance on crime won't help stop dairy robberies. Source: Breakfast

"It's about cash and it could be for personal use as well," he said, adding that cigarettes are "a really valuable and easy-to-dispose-of commodity".

"Excise duty is just one lever to pull to try to get people to quit smoking ... I feel we've hit the tipping point.

"Tax is over 75 per cent of the packet of cigarettes ... at what stage do they slow it down?"

Mr Hooker said he attended a meeting of dairy owners in Hamilton at the weekend, where people said they are scared to go to work.

The robbery took place at the Arthur Street dairy in Onehunga, with tobacco and cash taken. Source: Supplied

Tobacco products are a large part of the turnover of dairies, Mr Hooker said, often making up 50 to 60 per cent of their total turnover.

Most owners are still just looking for easily-accessible preventative measures against robberies, Mr Hooker said.

Government grants announced by the National government did not go far enough, he said, and time-delay machines which are often suggested are simply too expensive, at $15,000-$20,000 per unit.