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New Zealand First announced today that the Anti-smoking Policy needs to be ‘exposed’ — making smoking alternatives like vaping more affordable for lower-income families.
Families that cannot put food on the table and are spending more money because of the tax, the government isn’t doing enough to help these families but instead taxes them over a packet of ciggies.
“We need to stop punishing smokers with high excise tax and help them quit by making affordable alternatives available. A competent health strategy would look at subsidising alternatives to help long term smokers quit,” said New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters.
With the 2025 plan of New Zealand being smokefree, Peters says it isn’t working with the ‘added contradiction and hypocrisy’ when a referendum on legalising recreational marijuana is being held.
“The workers and poor people in this country are being screwed over to prop up our Health system. Currently, $2 billion worth of smoke tax is taken with a massively disproportionate amount taken from those in lower socio-economic circumstances.”
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Tobacco tax is truly nasty – it disproportionately hits the poor, it takes food off the table, and it’s fuelling dairy robberies and an illicit market.”
“Despite smokers contributing far more in tax revenue than they cost the health system, politicians tend to scapegoat them as cash cows. The public doesn’t show much sympathy for smokers, so it’s risky for a politician to go to bat for them. We’re impressed with Winston Peters’ courageous stance.”
New Zealand First says, “New Zealand First will lower tobacco excise so that the average pack of cigarettes is no more than $20, remove tax from smoking cessation tools, and put a stop to the belief that what we’re doing is working,” said Mr Peters.”
Louis says that vaping products are ‘far cheaper’ than cigarettes and that the barrier to smokers is making a move to change their habits.
A new regulation is being rushed through that meaning the bill bans’ non-specialist’ retailers (i.e. convenience stores, supermarkets, gas stations) from even selling the vape products, but will still allow menthol, mint, and tobacco products to be sold over the counter.
“The incoming regulation will limit the availability of flavoured vaping products and restrict the ability of businesses to advertise these products to smokers. And a complete ban on advertising for vaping products will prevent these brands from appealing to smokers to make the switch.”
“The range of appealing flavours is one of the key attractors for smokers transitioning off cigarettes. When someone walks into a convenience store and is denied access to flavoured vape liquid, but can still buy their favourite cigarette brand, they’re at risk of falling off the wagon,” said Louis Houlbrooke.
The New Zealand First Party says, “High tobacco excise has fuelled a huge black market for tobacco, with sophisticated criminal operations avoiding tax by buying and importing cigarettes from parts of the world where tobacco excise is low.”
“Less sophisticated criminals target dairies and service stations which are too often victims of violent crime. Lowering excise will reduce the value of stolen cigarettes to petty criminals.”
Image courtesy: Getty
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