NZ First aims to cut price of cigarettes to $20

Winston Peters at an election campaign event in Taupō, Sept 17 2020 Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers.

New Zealand First says it would lower tobacco excise so that the average pack of cigarettes is no more than $20.

Party leader Winston Peters announced the policy today, saying the party intended to stop punishing smokers with high excise tax and help them quit.

Peters says it will support ASH's surge strategy, making alternatives to smoking affordable and widely available.

He says the government's current Smokefree 2025 approach isn't working with the added contradiction and hypocrisy of holding a referendum on legalising recreational marijuana.

"We don't think that young and, particularly, poor people should be screwed any longer on this matter," he says.

"The reality is this country has been involved in a serious deception for some time, they say they want to be smokefree by 2025 and meanwhile the excise tax is going up.

"Mainly poor people who can't afford it, are paying outrageous excise tax for something that they could be persuaded to go from with the right policy, to other products which are far more safe as ASH says and in the meantime not sacrificing grocery bills to persist with a habit that they can be taken from with a sound strategy."

Peters says New Zealand First will lower tobacco excise so that the average pack of cigarettes is no more than $20, remove tax from smoking cessation tools, and put a stop to the belief that what is being done is working.

He says vaping products are far safer than they used to be.

He says big tobacco would not benefit from his party's policy, and he had not been lobbied either by them or vaping companies.

"I haven't seen a cigarette company, no ... I've never met a vaping company in my life. Don't challenge my good faith and integrity."

In a release, the party said the policy would help cut crime.

"High tobacco excise has fuelled a huge black market for tobacco, with sophisticated criminal operations avoiding tax by buying and importing cigarettes from parts of the world where tobacco excise is low.

"Less sophisticated criminals target dairies and service stations which are too often victims of violent crime. Lowering excise will reduce the value of stolen cigarettes to petty criminals."

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says she would not lower taxes on cigarettes - and this was non-negotiable.

"The leader of New Zealand First has always taken a different view on that but we maintain the perspective that ultimately we want people to stop smoking in New Zealand, and that has been one of the tools that around the world is used to help reduce smoking."

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Coffin nails

Posted on 20-09-2020 19:34 | By morepork

It looks like the issue of what were often referred to as "coffin nails" (cigarettes) is going to be the last nail in the coffin for NZ First. It’s a shame; I liked Winston and voted for him a couple of times but he has demonstrated that he has lost the plot. First with pressing to open the borders on economic grounds and now with this. I’m just thankful he didn’t get what he wanted from the current Government, who stood firm, but trying to get the smoking vote by encouraging a deadly habit, is pretty lame really. Time to step down gracefully and go home. Relax and retire, Winston.

Five year phase out

Posted on 19-09-2020 08:39 | By SonnyJim

Our governments have set a long-term goal of reducing smoking prevalence and tobacco availability to minimal levels, thereby making New Zealand essentially a smoke-free nation by 2025. So no tax on ciggys beyond 2025 anyway.


Posted on 18-09-2020 22:41 | By The Caveman

But the CURRENT LABOUR MOB that are totally against cigarettes are totally in favour of SMOKING WEED !!!

This is really sad.........

Posted on 18-09-2020 21:15 | By groutby

....I would not have wanted New Zealand 1st to leave parliament in this way, but, if this is the best they can do, why would we (NZ) need them? In ’his generation’ (Mr Peters) this may have worked, no, not now....

Tom Ranger

Posted on 18-09-2020 14:49 | By Tom Ranger

I might take them seriously about their intention being to look after people if they didn’t benefit so much financially by it. As it is...It looks like taking advantage of people whom are addicted to these products. Govt has become essentially stakeholders in cigarette sales. I wonder if they have become addicted to the taxes.

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