Photo: BH301.A7 on flickr
New Zealand announced a 40 per cent hike in tobacco taxes over the next four years on Thursday in an effort to lower its alarming number of adult smokers.20 per cent of adults smoke in New Zealand, compared to 16 per cent of Americans, 17 per cent of Australians and 23 per cent of Chinese adults, according to a 2011 report by the World Health organisation.
Prices are already the highest in the world in New Zealand, according to an AP report, and taxes were among the highest in the world even before the tax hike. Taxes of cigarettes were 72 per cent of retail price in New Zealand, compared to 45 per cent in the U.S. and 41 per cent in China.
Despite all these preventative measures, there are fears that some New Zealanders will commit crimes or turn to the black market to satisfy their nicotine cravings and that these massive hikes won’t act as a strong enough det errant.
Susan Jones, a spokeswoman for the New Zealand branch of popular cigarette maker British American Tobacco, told the AP that “consumer demand is far better served by legitimate companies than by the illegal operators that will surely grow as the government makes it increasingly difficult for people to buy their product of choice.”
One plan in New Zealand sought to eliminate smoking by 2025 by taxing tobacco to the point where cigarettes would cost US$75 per pack.
The planned prices in New Zealand would be triple the rate of the highest average price for a pack of cigarettes in the U.S. New York City charges a $5.85 tax for a pack, the highest average price in the country, according to a 2012 report from the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids. The average tax in the U.S. is just $1.46 per pack, according to the report.
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