New Zealand $100 cigarettes
In a working paper presented to Health Minister Tony Ryall, the ministry suggested raising the cost of cigarettes to $100 a pack would significantly help achieve the Government's goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.
The idea was floated in a document that the Government hike the price of cigarettes to $60 next year and then 10% every year thereafter, making the cost of a pack $100 by 2020.
The paper said "if we are to continue to lower smoking prevalence we need to both increase the numbers who successfully quit smoking, and reduce smoking initiation among young people".
The ministry said the most effective way to do this was through raising the price of a packet of cigarettes.
"The smokefree 2025 goal is unattainable by stopping smoking initiation alone and requires significant increases in cessation rates among current smokers.
"Some significant step-change measures are probably required early on - for example a very large increase in tobacco excise tax - to achieve the change in trajectory required."
The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) provided figures to the Health Ministry that the goal was achievable, but would require "ambitious" mid-term targets.
The ministry said almost all smokers picked up the habit between the ages of 14-24 and smoking rates peaked at age 20-30. It was estimated about 650,000 New Zealanders were smokers.The document said a test simulation from NZIER showed a one-off taxation increase of 60% would halve the numbers of those who picked up smoking in a year.
A 30% increase each year after that, combined with extensive media coverage of the smoke free goal and health programmes to enforce quitting, would reduce smoking prevalence to about 5% by 2025.
The NZIER recommended that for the 2025 goal to be achieved, smoking prevalence would have to be reduced to between 10 and 13% by 2018. That required Maori prevalence to drop from about 44% today, to 25% in 2018.
"Tobacco taxation is the single most effective intervention available to drive down smoking prevalence figures," the briefing paper said.
Tax on tobacco has been hiked incrementally since 2010. Ministry figures showed since then, sales in roll-your-own tobacco had dropped by 14.7% and manufactured cigarettes by 6.2%.
The document said the NZIER had modelled a further tax hike to "kick start" the momentum toward the 2025 goal where, combined with a large "shock increase" in 2013, the price would rise 10% every year after that.
It said that would be a more "realistic approach" than increasing the price of cigarettes by 30% every year until the goal was achieved.
The idea of charging $5 a cigarette is the most radical of several ideas floated in a Ministry of Health discussion paper obtained through a freedom of information request by the 3 News television network.
“Whatever it takes” is the reaction to the idea from New Zealand’s associate health minister Tariana Turia, when questioned by 3 News.
Prime Minister John Key was more skeptical, saying he feared the consequences in black market sales of cigarettes.
Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, is equally skeptical.
“It’s a good conversation point. I doubt it would be a good policy. Taxation is not my favourite tool. It puts the blame on the smoker as opposed to the tobacco companies and I would be concerned about the burden on household incomes.”
Callard praised New Zealand overall campaign, which includes the also-controversial switch to plain packaging.
The New Zealand government cabinet has agreed in principle to follow Australia’s lead and package all cigarettes in similar boxes that are essentially health warnings rather than brand names.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has protested New Zealand’s move as trademark infringement. The government of Australia faces legal challenges on three levels to its plain packaging law, which comes into effect in December.
“The chambers of commerce were recruited by the tobacco companies to represent their interests,” said Callard. “That position has not been supported by any international agencies who have death with intellectual property rights.”
New Zealand and Australia have “a level of public support and political engagement” to be in the vanguard of tobacco control, a position Canada used to have but has eroded, she said.
New, stronger health warnings on cigarettes packs, soon to be implemented, have taken eight years to bring about, she said.
The March 29 federal budget also cut $15 million from the government’s tobacco control strategies, she said.
Callard is confident Australia can win against the tobacco companies’ challenge to its plain packaging law, the first in the world.
“The Australian government is very aggressive, they know their stuff. They don’t take risks when they’re not on a good footing.”
The country’s Minister of Health is suggesting that the price of cigarettes be raised to nearly $100 (in New Zealand dollars) a pack ($81 U.S.) by the year 2020, according to document discovered by the country’s news agencies, reports Sky News.
The proposal is part of a plan to stamp out smoking by the year 2025.
The plan, which is still in a discussion phase, would jack up the price of a pack of cigarettes to $60 ($49 U.S.) and then raise the price 10% each following year.
The pricey plan is among an array of options that the government is mulling in order to reduce the health risks associated with tobacco.
A less expensive option on the table is a 10% increase on a pack of 20 cigarettes year-on-year from 2013 to 2025, meaning it would cost $40 a pack by 2024.
The ministry also discussed the idea of regulating tobacco as a highly toxic substance, banning smoking in cars with children, and removing tobacco from duty-free sales.
"If we are to continue to lower smoking prevalence we need to both increase the numbers who successfully quit smoking, and reduce smoking initiation among young people,” the ministry wrote in the proposal.