Smokers stock up on tobacco before the 'ridiculous' price increase
Smokers are stocking up on cigarettes as a tobacco price increase rolls in with the new year.
The tax on tobacco products again increased by 10 per cent from January 1, 2017.
Shopkeepers and smokers said the increase was ridiculous and only made people buy more cigarettes before the rise.
Feilding's Hooked on a Habit store worker Karl Hansen said it had been a busier Saturday than usual with people buying cigarettes.
"It's really working families and people that are affected by it."
He said he had also noticed an increase in "desperate" people picking butts out of gutters and trying to light them.
Hooked on a Habit opened about 10 years ago. The increase did not usually impact sales due to the store already having discounted prices, Hansen said.
He had heard of and seen a number of aggravated robberies and burglaries reported on TV, where the main item people wanted was cigarettes.
The Feilding store had been broken into in October, but luckily they had everything locked up tight, he said.
Robyn Green, who has been smoking for nine years, was "dreading" the increase.
"We will try to buy them for as cheap as we can until they do go up. Then try to give up."
Green and her partner were both smokers, but she had been trying to quit for six years.
Increasing the price was "absolutely not" the right way to go about trying to help people, she said.
"I pretty much thought it was ridiculous since they started it."
"There needs to be more support available. Support meetings would be good."
It has never been this expensive, 10 years ago cigarettes cost $10 and now the price has tripled, she said.
A 20-pack of cigarettes from Caltex on Main St, Palmerston North, cost between $19.90 and $26.10.
With the increase a 20-pack could cost almost $30, with the most expensive 20-pack at Caltex rising to $28.70.
JoAnne Donoghue, a smoker for 15 years, said the increase was a good incentive to quit.
"It's good for me but it's not good for a lot of other people. It's too hard to justify spending that money."
Despite the increase pushing her to quit, she thought there were better ways to help smokers.
"The support and the free patches to help quit are better, than hiking up the prices."
Just the encouragement and being able to text someone to talk to the right person would be the best solution, she said.
Donoghue signed up to a quit smoking organisation but said she wasn't paired with the right mentor and did not get the help she needed.
A Butt Bucket employee said people had been buying more before the prices went up.
"Instead of one pouch of tobacco they'll get two packs. They always do at this time of the year," she said.
"They're stocking up because they know the price increase is coming."
People also buy more tobacco and cigarettes before going on holiday as they don't want to miss out on their favourite.
Despite some stores experiencing an influx of sales before the new year, Broadway Express manager Shane Simpson said most people couldn't afford to stock up on cigarettes and tobacco.
It did not stop people from buying cigarettes, they just spent less on food and other items, he said.
"They are still going to buy their cigarettes, so the money has to come from everywhere else."
"We've had people comment that cigarettes go up but not alcohol and other things. Smokers feel like they are unfairly targeted."
Some found it unfair and others just took it on the chin, he said.