Forcing cigarettes up to $40 for a pack of 20 would achieve
New Zealand's smokefree goal virtually overnight, important
new research indicates.
A cheaper pack of 20 costs just under $15 in supermarkets at
present, midway through a series of tax rises expected to
price them at $20 in 2016.
In a study by public health specialist Dr Murray Laugesen and
colleagues, to be presented at an American conference next
week, 343 New Zealand smokers were interviewed about their
future smoking intentions at various price points.
At $20, 25 per cent said they would quit, but a price of $50
was required for 80 per cent to anticipate they would give
If 75 per cent of today's 650,000 adult New Zealand smokers
gave up - which the interviews indicated would need a price
of $40 - smoking prevalence would fall to about 5 per cent.
This is the "essentially smokefree"level the Government is
aiming for by 2025 with its three coming tax rises,
quit-smoking treatment schemes, media advertising to support
quitting and the promise of legislation to implement plain
tobacco packaging. Some experts say stronger policies will be
Ministry of Health officials last year discussed taxing to
push the price to $100 a pack by 2020, but concluded such big
tax hikes were "probably unrealistic". They canvassed other
radical tobacco "end-game"policies, such as making tobacco
available only for addicted users on treatment schemes and
restricting the number of tobacco retailers.
Dr Laugesen said two-thirds of the smokers interviewed said
they would use battery-powered "e-cigarettes", which emit
vapour rather than smoke, to quit.
But the ministry is worried e-cigarettes may become a new
route to smoking and has warned their distribution is illegal
as it considers them an unapproved medicine.
Price to quit
* $20 for a pack of 20 cigarettes - 25 per cent of smokers
* $25 - 50 per cent * $30 - 65 per cent
* $40 - 75 per cent * $50 - 80 per cent
Source: Health NZ, Auckland, Victoria and Canterbury
- Martin Johnston of the New Zealand Herald