Maori don't want smoking tax - Winston Peters

Last updated 15:50 18/07/2012
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WINSTON PETERS: New "Maori middle-class" are imposing smoking tax on ordinary Maori.

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Winston Peters has criticised the anti-smoking lobby and Maori leaders, saying ordinary Maori are being saddled with a massive tax on smoking most of them don’t want.

The New Zealand First leader, who is a smoker, was speaking at this morning's Finance and Expenditure Select Committee hearing on the Customs and Excise (Tobacco Products- Budget Measures) Amendment bill, which proposes four annual 10 per cent tax hikes on tobacco products.

Submitters including the Smokefree Coalition, West Coast Public Health, the Maori Party and the University of Otago public health department backed a 40 per cent tobacco tax rise over the next four years followed by at least 20 per cent over the following three years.

Mr Peters said ordinary Maori had not been consulted by "the new Maori middle class" and iwi leaders over the tax that would ‘‘thump’’ low income Maori with extra costs.

Mr Peters also questioned why the Japanese lived so long and have low rates of heart disease and stroke when they have the world’s highest smoking rate and said obesity was the main health concern for Maori, not smoking.

Maori Party co-vice president Ken Mair said Mr Peters was being "unhelpful and nonsensical" by putting obesity ahead of smoking-related illness

After the hearing the Smokefree Coalition’s Dr Prudence Stone said Mr Peters was presenting a "classic smoker’s argument" and was looking for a "magical promised land for smokers" where scientific research did not apply. The committee's report on the amendment is due back in September.

Contact Matt Stewart
Twitter: @smatape

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- The Dominion Post


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