27 Jun 2012

No guarantee of duty free tobacco ban

6:03 am on 27 June 2012

Prime Minister John Key cannot guarantee that the Government will ban duty free tobacco from being brought into New Zealand.

The Finance and Expenditure Select Committee will shortly consider submissions on the Customs and Excise Amendment Bill which would increase the tax on tobacco products by 40% in the next four years.

The Maori Medical Practitioners Association is one of many health organisations which want a 100% tax increase by 2016, and duty free tobacco imports stopped.

Chairman George Laking says that would prevent nearly 8000 deaths, compared to the 3000 lives the Government's present policy would save by 2021.

Mr Key says banning duty free tobacco imports is a possibility, but the Government needs to first make sure it doesn't breach trade treaty or legal obligations.