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Cigarette tax rise yet to have an impact

Last updated: January 4, 2011

Source: Times Age New Zealand

A 10 per cent tax slapped on cigarette and tobacco sales this week may prove an extra incentive for smokers wanting to kick the habit, with pack-a-day smokers now having to fork out over $6500 a year.

The rise is the second 10 per cent rise of three targeted hikes, with this week’s increase following one in April last year.

A further 10 per cent rise will take place on January 1 next year.

Renall St Store owner Michael Pickett said it was too early to tell if the price rise had had an effect on sales, as the new prices had only been going for a few days.

He said the cheapest 25-pack of cigarettes was now $15 (HK$92) for Freedoms, with the most expensive being Rothmans at $17.90 (HK$ 108) . A 20-pack went up NZ$2 overnight.

That meant someone smoking 10 cigarettes a day could now be looking at an annual cost of $2600, with pack-a-day smokers looking at over $6500 a year.

Mr Pickett said people were only just starting to notice the price hike.

“Some of them coming in are getting a fright, well all of them are getting a fright. But not all of them are planning on stopping.”

Most of the regular smokers were still coming in and buying their cigarettes, he said, but one young smoker had said that he was considering quitting soon.

Another Masterton retailer said he expected some customers to cut down or quit, but as many people were still away on holiday, it was difficult to gauge just how many.

National support group The Quit Group said the price hikes were proven to work, with the April tax increase leading to a huge uptake in New Zealanders trying to quit.

Their statistics indicated 4000 New Zealanders registered with Quitline in May 2010, double the number that signed up with them the previous May.

The Quit Group chief executive Paula Snowden said at the time that many smokers were looking for a way out of the habit.

“The majority of smokers wish they had never begun smoking and our survey shows that an increase in tobacco prices provides the trigger some smokers need to begin their quitting journey.”

Quitline has rostered on extra staff since New Year’s Day in an effort to deal with a current influx of callers.

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