While lawmakers here in the U.S. have developed a habit in recent years of raising taxes on cigarettes as a way to curb smoking while increasing tax revenue from those who continue to inhale, officials in New Zealand are giving some thought to what they would need to charge in order to make people quit smoking once and for all.
One idea reportedly being considered by the country’s Ministry of Health is an annual 10% increase on the price of a pack of cigarettes, meaning that by 2024, it would cost the equivalent of around $32 for a pack.
Another, more extreme, notion would aim to raise that price to a whopping $81 (U.S.) by as soon as 2020.
Sky News quotes the following from the Ministry’s paper:
If we are to continue to lower smoking prevalence we need to both increase the numbers who successfully quit smoking, and reduce smoking initiation among young people.
Tobacco taxation is the single most effective intervention available to drive down smoking prevalence figures.
Now, we here at Consumerist HQ don’t buy illegal drugs, but from what we’ve seen on TV, high prices for items like heroin, cocaine and glint haven’t exactly stopped folks from getting their hands on the things they crave. Nor has it prevented others from making a lot of money off these people.
If anyone is thinking of getting into the tobacco smuggling business, it seems like New Zealand might soon be fertile ground in which to grow such a criminal enterprise (not that we encourage any sort of behavior).