By Te Karere


A leading expert on smoking cessation is calling on the new government to halt the annual tax increase on cigarettes, instead of putting funding into initiatives to support people to quit.


A smoker for five years, Mario Cooper says tax hikes on cigarettes are making life hard, “In poorer communities that are tending to happen people are buying smokes over food for their kids and I think the government should wake up and realise that.”


Professor Marewa Glover is concerned the poor are being adversely affected by the tax and says, “Now that we have a Labour-led government I hope that they will halt the taxes. They did that last time they were in and they preferred to put money into smoking cessation and supporting people to quit.”


But Hapai Te Hauora CEO Lance Norman supports the tax hike and says, “It stops whānau taking up smoking because the costs of cigarettes are so high. So what you want to do is help people stop smoking and you want to stop people to start smoking.”


However, Cooper says for some, money is not an issue, “The power of addictions is a lot more powerful than the power of money. In terms of getting people to quit, I don’t think it's going to work I think more or less the crime rate and possibly black market tobacco industry is going to boom.”