Rudd insists tobacco tax is not a political move

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd insists that the planned new tax and packaging rules on tobacco is not a political move, but is aimed at raising revenues and discourage Australians from lighting up.

Rudd made the statement to quell speculations that the shake up in the tobacco industry was geared towards influencing opinion polls and shift attention from his administrations shortcomings, especially the shelving of the climate change policies.

The Prime Minister said the Australian Taxation Office had told him that the planned new tax on tobacco was affecting “consumptive behavior.” The office had advised Rudd to delay the implementation of the tobacco excise and the new packaging rules.

But he said he is sticking with his plan.

Peter Dutton, health spokesman for the opposition said Rudd timed the release of the new tobacco policies because he is facing criticism with the ETS, the home insulation program and the school halls, especially that pollster Newspoll is set to conduct its fortnightly survey.

But Rudd quickly dismissed the accusation and said he does not expect his announcement to draw positive reaction particularly from the thousands of smokers across the nation.

“There’s a whole lot of smokers out there, and I don’t think it’s going to be greeted with dancing in the streets,” Rudd said.

For his part, Newspoll chief executive officer Martin O’Shannessy said they have not yet made an analysis whether announcements made by political parties have any baring on opinion surveys.


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