Seymour and Harawira find common ground in opposition to cigarette tax hikes

Political opposites David Seymour and Hone Harawira have found something in common - they both want a change in tack in how we combat smoking.

A 25-pack of cigarettes will now cost close to $40 after the excise tax increased by 10 percent on January 1. It's the latest in many price rises, and TVNZ reports the average tax per cigarette is now 82 cents.

The Ministry of Health says 13.8 percent of adults still smoke, down 25 percent from 1996/1997. That's a long way from the under-5 percent the Government is aiming for by 2025.

ACT leader David Seymour says the tax increases aren't stopping smoking, but allowing the Government to take more money out of Kiwis' pockets.

"You've still got a good 15 percent of New Zealanders, mostly the people who are less able to afford it, now paying these tobacco taxes," he told RadioLIVE.

"I don't think you have to be in favour of smoking - you can be opposed to it, you could think that people should pay enough tax to cover any additional healthcare costs that smoking puts on the healthcare system, that's fair too."

Mr Seymour says smokers have been joined in their addiction by the Government, which has been taking in $2.2 billion a year in taxes.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira agrees the tax isn't working, and something else needs to be done.

"Just raising the price, the poor people are going to keep paying, it's going to have less and less impact on smokers by continuing to raise the tax."

Mr Harawira said the Government should work to reduce the points of sale, bring down the amount of nicotine in cigarettes, control the flavour inside cigarettes and tax companies directly.

"[The Government] should be saying, 'No more price increases - we are now taxing the companies directly for the impact they're having on the people of New Zealand, and that money will go directly to smoking cessation.'"


Contact Newshub with your story tips: