Smokers are being urged to put down their cigarettes and use the increase in tobacco prices as motivation.
Woman holding a lit cigarette.
Source: 1 NEWS
Cigarettes and loose tobacco went up another 10 per cent on January 1, and the Waikato District Health Board (WDHB) says it's a great opportunity to give up the habit.
''We are trying to put a stop to whanau dying needlessly from smoking-related diseases,'' WDHB medical officer of health Dr Richard Hoskins said.
"More and more people are stopping smoking and we are seeing more outdoor public spaces become smokefree. It used to be very social and now it's not."
In 2017, nearly 500 people stopped smoking in Waikato using the Once and For All Stop Smoking Service, and of those 57 per cent were Maori.
Meanwhile the 2013 Census data shows close to 44,000 people in Waikato aged 15 years and over smoke regularly (17 per cent) compared to 15 per cent nationally.
The cost of smoking will continue to rise by 10 per cent on January 1 each year for the next four years as part of the Government's 2016 budget announcement.
Tax hikes are part of a number of measures designed to move New Zealand towards the goal of a smoke free New Zealand by 2025 - reducing smoking prevalence to less than five per cent of the total population.