Price hike for cigarettes
The cost of cigarettes will rise to more than $20 a pack over the next four years after Parliament passed the Government's Budget Day promise to the tax on tobacco.
The legislation passed last night will raise tobacco excise by 10 per cent increase a year for the next four years. It is expected to lift the price of a typical pack of cigarettes from about $14.30 today to $20 or more by 2016.
The Government allocated $20 million over the next four years in this year's Budget for a new innovation fund to develop ways to help more ways to help New Zealanders kick the habit.
Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said the tax increase would drive down smoking rates, and save lives and improve health.
"Smoking continues to be by far New Zealand's single leading cause of avoidable death and disease, and it is great to have the strong cross-party support for such an important measure."
The changes would hit smokers in the pocket, Turia conceded.
"But I am not prepared to sit back while another generation becomes addicted to smoking."
Raising the tax on cigarettes was the most powerful tool the Government had to stop children taking up smoking and to encourage smokers to quit, she said.
Turia, who is also the Maori Party's co-leader, said she was particularly concerned about higher smoking rates among Maori and Pacific people.
"My hope is that smokers take the opportunity to contact the Quitline, or one of the other options available including Aukati Kaipaipa and specialist Pacific services, before the next wave of price rises hits next year."
The Government subsidised cessation support services including Quitline and treatments such as nicotine patches, lozenges, gum and prescription medicines.
One of the Government's six priority health targets was for 95 per cent of hospitalised smokers and 90 of all smokers seen by their GPs to be given advice about quitting.