Tobacco tax could go up in budget

THE Federal Government’s indigenous smoking coordinator has hinted that Labor could increase the tobacco excise in the May budget.

Tom Calma, who has the job of reducing smoking rates in Aboriginal communities, made the call at the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday.

Asked whether he would like to see the government increase the tobacco tax in the upcoming budget, Mr Calma said: “I believe that’s mooted.”

But he added, “that’s something for government to determine”.

Labor increased the tobacco excise by 25 per cent in April 2010. That move is expected to raise $5 billion over four years.

It increased the price of a pack of 30 smokes by about $2.16.

After his press club address, Mr Calma was asked to clarify his comments regarding another possible tax hike.

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He said his belief was based on reading material released by the government when the original 25 per cent increase was announced in April 2010.

“As I read it … they indicated there would be a second excise (rise),” he told reporters.

Mr Calma, who noted he was only a consultant to the commonwealth, believes making cigarettes more expensive is effective in reducing smoking rates.

“Anecdotally it’s appearing that it has (helped),” he told reporters.

“We did see a big spike on access to Quitline … following the announcement.”

Many Aboriginal people who didn’t quit still reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked so the packet would last longer, Mr Calma said.

“That’s an important start because the three key goals are prevention, reduction and then cessation.”

Comment was being sought from Health Minister Nicola Roxon regarding the possibility of an increase to the tobacco excise.


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