Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

Cigarettes to rise to A$40 a packet under Turnbull plan to force smokers to fund their own health care

Malcolm Turnbull is set to follow Bill Shorten’s lead and hit smokers in the hip pocket with a proposed tax increase that would see a packet of cigarettes cost $40.

A government source has revealed the Turnbull government is looking to introduce a proposal to increase the tobacco excise in the May budget after changes to negative gearing and GST failed, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Turnbull, who previously supported a higher tobacco excise to fund private health insurance rebates, is believed to be taking a more watered down approach than opposition leader Bill Shorten who claimed Labor’s proposal would raise revenue by $47 billion over a decade.

Labor announced that if it wins office the party would increase the excise by 12.5 per cent each quarter until 2020 to pay for the Gonski school funding policy.

Mr Shorten said Labor’s proposal is a health measure to decrease the number of Australian people smoking.

Labor MP Jim Chalmers said the issue would open up another front in the civil war eating up the Liberal Party.

He pointed out that Treasurer Scott Morrison and former prime minister Tony Abbott are on the record opposing any increase to cigarette taxes.

Federal MP Ewen Jones reckons giving up smokes was the best thing he ever did, amid speculation the federal government might follow Labor and hike the tax on cigarettes.

The Queensland coalition backbencher acknowledged the massive cost of smoking to the community and public health system with cancer patients ‘getting bits and pieces chopped off’.

‘One of the greatest things I’ve ever done is given them up,’ he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Jones said he had not heard any concrete proposals from his side of politics on changes to the tobacco excise.

‘No government or party comes towards smokers with a position of policy purity – it is an income stream,’ he said.

Government MP Andrew Laming, who is an eye specialist, argued increasing the excise would hit addicts and low-income people the hardest.

It would also come at the ‘price of their family’s well-being’.

Dr Laming said Labor could not calculate how much money the measure would raise because it was a consumption tax and impossible to model.

‘They spend the money before they’ve got it,’ he told reporters.

Senator Ricky Muir said it was the first he had heard that the government was considering slugging smokers to pay for income tax cuts, although there had been whispers.

‘I think it’s at the point now where raising the price of cigarettes is proven not really to stop the diehard smokers who have been doing it for a long time,’ he told Seven Network.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party senator said it was ‘something I will get to look into in the future’ providing he still held his senate seat.

The 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report found that around 13 per cent of the Australian population smoke.

Each year the habit is estimated to kill 15,000 Australians and costs the nation around $31.5 billion, according to the Department of Health.

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>