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Minister claims duty free tobacco cut ‘results’

The New Zealand Government’s Customs Minister Nicky Wagner claims that the country’s customs service has destroyed more than 2.5 tonnes of ‘abandoned tobacco’ and collected NZ$1.35m ($933,324) in additional duty and taxes since it reduced the duty free tobacco allowance last November.

In a statement, Wagner said: “People seem to be learning about the change. The amount of tobacco abandoned at airports by those not wanting to pay duty is dropping from the 100 kilograms Customs was initially collecting every week.”

“The change was well signalled in advance and advertising to highlight the change continues. Customs’ passenger surveys show most people are aware of and accept the change in regulations.

“Customs recorded over 7,600 individual transactions for people choosing to pay duty, with the total collected in the six months adding to over NZ$1.35m ($933,324).”

Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga also welcomed the reduction in the amount of tobacco being brought into New Zealand through its airports.

“The fact that people appear to be aware of the changes to our duty free tobacco limits and accept them is confirmation that our Government’s policies are making a real difference. We are determined to reduce the harm tobacco causes and the cost to our health system.

“The new duty-free tobacco limits, together with tax increases on tobacco sold in New Zealand, are pricing tobacco out of reach of many users. This is reflected in the numbers of smokers giving up tobacco,” he said.

New Zealand changed its regulations on 1 November, 2014 where passengers have had to declare any tobacco over the 50 cigarettes or 50 grams, and either dispose of the excess or pay duty on it. Tobacco sent by mail or cargo also no longer qualifies for a gift allowance.

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