Tobacco price hike spurs rise in quitters

A 10 per cent tax hike on tobacco introduced today will help more Kiwis escape a "creeping death", anti-smoking advocates say.

Quitline has had a surge in activity ahead of today's changes with people desperate to quit to save money.

Tax increases in January 2012 and 2013 saw a 14.6 per cent increase in cigarette prices and a significant impact on the smoking population.

Today's hike is also expected to give many more smokers the push they need.

"Smoking is expensive and it needs to be," Quitline chief executive Paula Snowden said.

"The cost of tobacco is a big issue for people and when it goes up it prompts hundreds of smokers to seek help to quit ... Smoking tobacco is a powerful addiction, a creeping death that steals lives and robs families of health and well-being."

In 2013 a pack of 20 cigarettes cost between $14 and $18.40 and a 30g pouch of loose tobacco ranged from $29.90 to $35.90

How much retail prices soar this year will be decided by the tobacco companies.

January is already a busy time for Quitline as people make New Year's resolutions to quit and prices go up.

Quitline communications manager Sarah Woods said the number of calls coming in quadrupled when the office reopened after Christmas.

"People were talking about the price increase and the stress involved and wanted to make sure they could order their patches and lozenges in advance."

Health, family and money were the three main motivators when smokers decided to quit, she said.

"It's more socially unacceptable since all the smoke free policies came into effect. But there are still people who live in lower socioeconomic areas where a lot of people still do smoke."

The 2013 census showed the overall smoking rate dropped from 20.7 per cent in 2006 to 15.1 per cent last year.

Quitline has also launched a "scary" new advertising campaign called "The Last Dance" which shows a dying man getting out of bed to dance with his partner one last time as their child watches on.

It's hoped the ad will highlight the damage smoking can do to a family, Ms Woods said.

Tax increases are part of the Government's plan to be Smokefree by 2025, which will see smoking rates dropped below 5 per cent.

- Cassandra Mason of APNZ

Nicotine delivery units

everlast, are you suggesting the corporate British American are drug pushers?

There's method in my madness

AB67: I didn't start smoking until i was 30, some 20 odd years ago. This was brought about when the court system gave me a final warning (after many driving and alcohol related charges), that if they found me before them again, jail time would be imposed. The sensible option for me was to change vices as a jail term was not very inviting. I'm a much nicer and calmer person now because of that and haven't been before the court since.

It may not make sense to you, for the poorer among us to have an expensive vice but they (vices) are all expensive. Are you suggesting the poor are allowed no vice at all? For many of those in that situation, that small vice (piece of enjoyment) is all they have.

I roll my own cigarettes and a $40 pouch (30gram at new pricing) will last me 2 weeks. It's gunna take a long time to save up for that flash car. Ive had all those flash cars already. I have also done the travel thing, but other than a few memories, found it a waste of money. I place no importance on clothing and have a toy collection (many vintage) valued at many thousands of dollars.

Rugby, mountain bike riding, skiing and many other sports also are a burden on the health system (acc) I just can't wait until they have to pay for their vices. Yeah right.

Perhaps you could advise where the government will get their tax take from when they have priced cigarettes, alcohol and driving out of reach of most? [abridged]

A few thoughts about discouraging smoking

Dear Speedfreak,

I do not contest your idea that you enjoy smoking. You indeed might. A good lot of smokers don't. And they need help in the way of a nudge or a push to help them quit.

Speedfreak, no one contests your right to smoke. We all do things that are unhealthy for us. But by far, tobacco causes more harm than all of these other legal vices, and affects not just the person indulging in it.

Many people in the lower socio-economic strata took up smoking when it was far more affordable. It makes no sense for a poor person to have an expensive vice. MOST of them are still with it because it is difficult to kick rather than because they enjoy it.

You feel its unfair that your favourite pastime is targeted even as so many of the other negative things plaguing society are allowed to exist. Driving is legal. Speeding increases the healthcare burden due to accidents. Alcohol is legal. But people overindulge and ruin their health with it. And drive drunk. You can see that the govt is putting a cost barrier in there to discourage those too. To discourage people from doing that and hopefully doing something less harmful or maybe even something positive instead.

Smokers also cost the health system much more. We have heard plenty of that, you will probably choose not to contest that.

It is reasonable for the govt to raise more revenue by taxing tobacco to shore up funds for treating tobacco-related illnesses. If this also helps reduce smoking in the population, is that not better?

If you gave up your pack-a-day habit costing you $7000+ a year, you could reinvest it in a really sexy recent-enough model sportscar or a couple weeks at a really exotic place halfway across the world. Or better clothes and better books and toys and healthier food for your kids.

Just a few thoughts there, but definitely plenty that is more worthwhile than smoking, no matter how much you enjoy it. Find my thoughts reasonable?

[Abridged]

I've done the maths

And I pointed that out in my last comment. It's cheaper to smoke weed than cigarettes. For the record, I'm not overweight and I enjoy smoking, which is legal in this country.

What irks me is all those pushing to take the "freedom of choice" away from smokers. Many smokers are from the less wealthy sector and for many of these people, it's one of the few things they get to enjoy. Keeping pushing the price up to make us give it up is akin to dictatorship in my opinion and the more I'm pressured to give up my LEGAL pastime, the more determined I am to continue.

Much has been said re child welfare in this country. If my child ends up with only bread and noodles to eat, it's my fault for smoking? Not in my book, pal. I feel no guilt whatsoever as I know full well that the government forcing its "we must give up smoking agenda" by price increases is to blame. Make em $100 bucks a pack if you wish. I can survive on coffee and a cigarette. [abridged]

Re: speedfreak's comment

Mate, there are seriously a million good ways of losing a few kilos of weight that are better than smoking.
Go ask your doctor. I am one. The extra cardiovascular risk and heart's workload that comes from smoking one pack is comparable to the extra workload and risk of being 50-55kg overweight.
You do the maths: which is better? Being 5kg overweight or smoking and taking the risk associated with being 55kg overweight?
Stopping smoking still pays. Even if one gains a few kilos. Seriously. It's no contest.
Please quit smoking in the interest of your near and dear ones. Cheers.

No, I'm not kidding

My comment is based on my observations of those trying to give up over the last 20-30 years along with concerns expressed in various media over recent times. Where's the proof (facts) you and "heaps of ex-smokers you know" are not overweight? All I'm hearing from you is your opinion that your'e not. It's quite possible that I could take one look at you and your friends and disagree.

Are you kidding?

Speedfreak43: I know heaps of ex smokers who are not overweight at all....and that includes myself. All I am hearing from you are assumptions and no facts.

20 years of minor weight fluctuations

Speedfreak43:  "Just point me out an ex-smoker who is not overweight."  

Me for one.  20 years each way, sometimes thinner, sometimes heavier throughout both the smoking and the non-smoking years, never obese, not overall into a pattern of extra weight gain during the post-smoking years.  

That's hardly correct

That's hardly correct Everlast, as 80-plus percent is tax and about 6-7 percent margin for the seller.

This country has a problem with many being overweight, no doubt helped by the ever increasing price of cigarettes and insistence from the government, that we must give it up. Just point me out an ex-smoker who is not overweight.

What is actually happening is a few more will give it up and slowly get fatter and die of a heart attack anyway. Others will just grow their own (about 5 bucks for 100 seeds at the garden shop).  And the government gets nil.

Then, there will be a few that  will stop the "pack a day habitt" at $20 bucks a day in favour of smoking weed instead. That $20 buck a day habitt turns into $280 a fortnight. From your local dealer you could get an ounce of weed for close to that and many would get 4-6 weeks out of  it And the government gets nil..

Then, of course, there are those that will just carry on smoking. Those same people will buy the week's smokes first and what's left will go on bills. Anything left after that will be for feeding the family. In effect, as many smokers are from the poorer demographic, increasing the tax will only result in children getting less.

Good

The sooner everyone gives up the better as the only people gaining from smoking are the drug pushers (tobacco companies)

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