Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

Tobacco tax increase will cut smoking rates, say public health experts

The number of smokers in Australia has dwindled over recent decades, from about a quarter in the early 1990s to closer to 13 per cent now, partly due to previous tobacco excise increases, and public health measures like banning smoking in public areas and plain packaging laws.

Smokers will be slogged again in the federal budget, with the Government announcing it is matching Labor’s policy to keep increasing tobacco excise.

There will be a series of 12.5 per cent increases in excise for each of the next four years. That means a packet of cigarettes will cost about A$40 in 2020.

Samantha, 22, who is a student said the cost would be enough to make people quit.

“That would mean [I would] just quit straight up. I can’t afford $40. It’s not worth the habit. It’s already expensive as it is. I find at the end of the week I’ve probably spent $200 just on smokes,” she said.

For almost two decades tobacco excise was indexed to inflation, until 2010, when there was a one-off increase in excise to 25 per cent.

In 2013, the former Labor government increased the excise by 12.5 per cent per year for four years.

That has seen cigarettes increase from about A$15 a pack six years ago, to around A$25-30 now.

Yalcin, 25, said it was not only more expensive being a smoker in Australia than in his homeland of Germany, but less acceptable.

“I even get the impression that smoking marijuana for example is much more accepted from the community and society than smoking cigarettes, because you’re just considered as a bad person if you smoke in Australia. That’s my impression.”

Joanne, 52, has been smoking for 40 years and said the price rise would not stop her from smoking.

“No, not at all. They’re targeting the wrong area. I think we’re just a scapegoat for revenue raising,” she said, adding that a price hike would see her cut back on travel rather than cigarettes.

“It’s not going to stop me. You either want to smoke or you don’t.”

The chief executive of the Cancer Council of Australia, Sanchia Aranda said price is an important factor in people’s decision to smoke.

“Every time you increase the excise consumption goes down. We anticipate if there were four of these recurrent tobacco increases over time, that about 320,000 current smokers would attempt and be likely to quit as a result of all four increases, and about 40,000 teenagers would be deterred from taking up smoking. In the longer term that means tens of thousands of cancer deaths would be prevented,” Professor Aranda said.

Professor Aranda said lung cancer was still the most significant preventable cancer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>