Smoking excise tax should stay, but more needs to be done to help people quit - expert

A public health expert says New Zealand shouldn't give up on the smoking excise tax, but more needs to be done to help people quit.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters blamed violent dairy robberies on the high excise tax charged on tobacco. The excise has increased every year since 2010.

But Hāpai Te Hauora CEO Lance Norman told The AM Show he doesn't believe the rise in excise is behind the increase in violent robberies.

"If someone steals a car is that because the cost of cars [is] too expensive, or they break into a house and steal a TV is that because TV's are too expensive?" he said.

"No it's because crime is on the increase, so I think it's a little far-fetched to say it's because cigarettes have gone up."

Mr Norman said the smoke free 2025 goal isn't going to be met and New Zealand needs to do more to make the country smoke free.

Excise taxes should be kept, but money needs to go into other cessation programmes.

"What we need to do is look at where the tax is going, so $2 billion from excise tax every year, three percent goes back into the community, that's not enough."

"We need to put more money into smoking cessation services, maybe research vaping products to get it better regulated so there's a lot of things we can do better."