In a somewhat unusual move, there was no mention of an annual hike in tobacco taxes during today's Budget announcement.
The last annual tobacco tax increase of 11.5 per cent, on 1 January this year, took an average pack of 25 cigarettes to over $41.
As the Government unveiled its much-awaited Budget 2020 today, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said its focus is on jobs and training.
"There are no tax changes in the Budget because that isn't the focus at the moment," Mr Robertson told 1 NEWS.
“It’s good news the Minister of Finance didn’t use this Budget to hike tobacco tax, as has been the case for the past four years,” responded Nancy Loucas, director of lobbyist group Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy.
“We support the Government investing in campaigns via its own Health Promotion Agency to encourage smokers to switch to vaping. However, we don’t support the Government effectively taxing our poorest households more. Thank goodness that has stopped,” she said.
Treasury has set aside $50 billion for the economic recovery amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but only $30 billion has been allocated so far.
"The $20 billion currently not allocated is there because no one in the world yet knows where or when Covid-19 ends," Mr Robertson said.