1 Jan 2017

Tobacco tax increase comes in today

9:51 am on 1 January 2017

Smoking gets more expensive from today: the tax on tobacco is going up by 10 percent.

The cost of a packet of cigarettes is currently about $20.

The cost of a packet of cigarettes is currently about $20. Photo: 123RF

It's the first of four consecutive 10 percent rises coming into force on 1 January each year until 2020.

Roughly 15 percent of adult New Zealanders, or 550,000 people, are estimated to smoke daily, and smoking-related illnesses kill up to 5000 a year.

The cost of a packet of cigarettes is currently about $20.

Quitline chief executive Andrew Slater said it was likely more people would stop smoking because of the price rise.

"Money and financial reasons is one of a number of reasons that people quit, and so we're seeing an increase that the government announced last year that comes into effect today. And so that certainly motivates people to pick up the phone and start their quit-smoking journey."

Mr Slater said he expected the number of calls to Quitline to double throughout this month and next.

Meanwhile, Quitline's lastest freephone help service statistics show that nearly half of the people who gave up smoking in 2016 did so to improve their health.

Quitline says 45 percent of those who used its services to quit wanted to better their health, while 13 percent said they just did it for themselves and another 11 percent quit because it was too expensive.

Mr Slater said the proportion who quit for family reasons jumped to 9 percent.

"We're seeing family, whanau and role-modelling for children increasing as a reason for people to quit and also just I think having children provides a great prompt for people to think about their health and make sure that they're going to be healthy to see their children grow up."

Over a third of pregnant smokers who contacted Quitline cited the need to be a role model for their children as the main motivation to quit, with improving health coming in second.

The Māori Party says stopping Māori women from smoking is on the government's work programme for the year ahead.

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said the goal is that by 2025 fewer than 5 percent of people will be smokers.

"There are many parts of New Zealand that have already reached that goal, one of the biggest areas that we need to look at though is Māori smoking, Māori women smoking and looking at the trial introduction of e-cigarettes and vaping as forms of cessation."

Ms Fox said a change to the tobacco laws was being considered, to formally include e-cigarettes as part of quit-smoking moves.

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