By 3 News online staff
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has spoken out against plans for further tobacco tax increases.
Mr Peters, a known smoker, told a select committee hearing yesterday that higher prices for tobacco products would “thump the pockets” of low-income Maori, the New Zealand Herald reports.
The bill would increase the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes to more than $20 within four years, if passed by Parliament.
Mr Peters’ stance against further price rises was opposed by the Maori Party, who are pushing for the change.
Maori Party vice-president Ken Mair describes tobacco companies as “terrorists” and says they are responsible for 5000 deaths a year.
This figure was challenged by Mr Peters, but University of Otago Professor Richard Edwards says the number can be verified.
"This figure was not plucked out of the air. You work out from the increased risk that smokers have of developing conditions like lung cancer,” he says.
Mr Edwards says from looking at the prevalence of smoking among those people with conditions like lung cancer, it can then be worked out what proportion of deaths are due to smoking.
source: newshub archive