'Premature' for National to rule out increasing tobacco tax - anti-smoking group

An anti-smoking group hopes Simon Bridges will look at the effectiveness of tobacco taxes, but believes ruling out increasing the tax might be "premature".

On Monday, the National Party leader announced that if his party returned to power, it would not introduce any new taxes in its first term.

He also told Ryan Bridge and Wendyl Nissen on RadioLIVE that his Government would not increase excise taxes on cigarettes, which have increased every year since 2010.

"I think we've done our dash there as a country actually - in terms of weaning people off cigarettes, that's done its dash," he said.

But Boyd Broughton from Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) says stubbing out the tax increases might be premature.

"It might be a little bit premature to say he would rule it out completely, but I don't think it's premature for him to say we will look at the effectiveness, which hopefully is really what he is meaning," said Mr Broughton.

Mr Bridges reckons "as a layperson looking in" the tax has reached "maximum effectiveness" and has stopped working as a deterrent to smoking.

"There's a point when you're not achieving anymore from that, and you have to find other ways when it comes to cigarette taxes".

Mr Broughton said it is too early to know if the taxes are working and believes previous tax increases weren't as large as what was being called for.

"Admittedly some of the tax increases weren't as large as what was being asked for to really force people to choose to live a smoke-free life".

Cutting taxes was the only way, Mr Bridges believed, to deal with a high cost of living. He also said he hadn't considered raising taxes on alcohol.

"We make sure with an incoming National government, we don't keep on taxing and we keep those costs lower for longer - and that includes [cigarettes and alcohol]."