Price hikes turning smokers off

Research due out tomorrow shows double the number of hardcore smokers have tried to quit since tax increases in April.

A day after radical plans were revealed to encourage more New Zealanders to give up cigarettes, ONE News has learned people have already been put off the habit since the first round of tax hikes hit.

And the study shows the results are particularly significant for Maori and Pacific Island smokers.

Tobacco control researcher Marewa Glover said “a huge amount” are quitting or trying to quit as the 10% tobacco tax hike eats into wallets.

Dr Glover said about 65% of those surveyed are taking steps to quit – double what they found in surveys before the tax hike.

But while the survey suggests a significant number of smokers have tried to stop smoking as a result of the tax rise, it’s not yet clear whether they have actually succeeded. Researchers say that generally takes a lot more work.

Glover said tighter restrictions, more help and even higher taxes are still needed, especially to target younger smokers who have grown up with smoking bans at work and in bars.

“There’s still a lot of uptake, there’s still lots of parents smoking and that’s the main driver of child uptake of smoking,” Glover said.

“Among Maori it’s really high unfortunately – about 60% of parents are smoking – so we’re still going to have huge numbers of Maori children taking up smoking.”

Glover said the prices hikes are making people think “now’s the time” to try to stop, but it is not as simple as just increasing the price.

She said cessation support information has to be accessible in communities, in places like shopping malls. She said for some it’s still not very convenient to get support if you want to quit.

The Maori Affairs Select Committee’s report on tobacco recommends banning the display of tobacco in shops, putting tobacco products in plain packaging and banning smoking in cars.


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