NZ health groups band together against duty free tobacco
New Zealand’s health groups are pushing for the duty-free allowance for incoming travellers to be scrapped altogether, in line with Australian rule changes.
Several groups have already submitted proposed changes to the bill announced in New Zealand’s 2012 Budget, in which the tobacco tax is to be increased by 10 per cent annually until 2015. Concerned organisations are proposing that the duty-free allowance for imported cigarettes of 200 per person should be scrapped.
The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, along with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Maori Medical Practitioners Association, the College of Nurses, the Heart Foundation and Auckland Regional Public health service, are all calling on the NZ government to follow Australia’s lead and cut or severely restrict the allowance. Recently, Australia lowered the allowance to 50 cigarettes from 250 per person.
Health Minister Tariana Turia told reporters the change was possible, but would cause complex problems associated with international obligations. According to the Heart Foundation’s medical director Norman Sharp, duty-free tobacco was a serious earner on the black market, losing the country $63 million in lost tax revenues.
The same health groups are behind a call for the duty on tobacco products to increase by 40 per cent in 2012 and by 20 per cent in each of the three following years. According to the New Zealand Herald, health professionals believe the increases would result in 100,000 smokers quitting the habit.
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