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Tax hike tipped to result in more smokers quitting

More Northland smokers are expected to give up after the latest 10 per cent hike on tobacco products kicked in yesterday. Northland health officials hope the latest 10 per cent rise in the cost of tobacco products will see more smokers try to kick the habit and say there is help for those who want to quit.

The Government’s latest tax hike on tobacco kicked in yesterday, with more scheduled on January 1 on each of the next three years.

Bridget Rowse, Northland DHB Smokefree Advisor, is urging smokers to beat the price increase and consider quitting this summer.

“Every year thousands of Kiwis escape their working lives for a few weeks for a summer holiday – epitomised by journeys to the beach, families and feasting, and of course the tradition of New Year’s resolutions,” Ms Rowse said.

“We’re encouraging everyone to make giving up smoking their resolution this New Year. It’s a great opportunity to begin that journey to a smokefree life.”

She said the aim was to put a stop to whanau dying needlessly from smoking-related diseases and while the cost of smoking has gone up, the cost of quitting hasn’t. An eight-week supply of nicotine patches, gum and lozenges costs as little as $5. By using patches, gum or lozenges smokers will double their chance of quitting for good.

Nicotine patches, gum and lozenges are safe, and contain only a minimal amount of nicotine, and come packaged without any of the 4000 chemicals – many of which are harmful – found in cigarettes.

“We know that most smokers would love to quit. Increasing tobacco tax is one of the best ways to reduce smoking.”

Previous tobacco tax increases have reduced tobacco consumption per capita by around a quarter and prompted thousands of smokers to quit.

“Some people may feel targeted, but the tax hikes send a clear and consistent message that, in the long-run, New Zealand was committed to drastically bringing down smoking rates,” Ms Rowse said.

Tax hikes are part of a number of measures designed to move New Zealand towards the Government’s goal of a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025 – reducing smoking prevalence to less than 5 per cent of the total population.

More than 19,986 people in Northland aged 15-years and over smoke regularly – 19.1 per cent – compared to 15 per cent nationally.

To get help to stop smoking, talk to your doctor, midwife, Maori health provider or call Quitline on 0800 778 778.

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