10 percent tobacco tax increase helping smokers to quit

By Tema Hemi

Early January is the busiest time of year for Quitline. It's the third of four consecutive 10 per cent rises coming into force on 1 January each year until 2020. Many people begin their quit attempt as part of a New Year's resolution to give up smoking. 

This is the third increased tobacco tax since 2010 that the Ministry of Health has implemented as a means to encourage smokers to stop smoking, but is it working? 

Quitline's lastest freephone help service statistics show that nearly half of the people who gave up smoking in 2016 did so to improve their health. Quitline and Hāpai Te Hauora are working together to achieve a smokefree New Zealand 2025. 

A change to the tobacco laws was being considered, to formally include e-cigarettes as part of quit-smoking moves. 

Quitline CEO Andrew Slater says, "What we see in January and on new years day is people make a new years resolution to make 2019 their smoke-free year and people pick up the phone to talk to our team. The four top reasons why people want to quit, number one is they want to be physically more healthy, number two is they want to go do it for whānau, number three they want to prove to themselves they can do it and number four is the cost. We look at what's clinically happening around helping people and supporting people to quit smoking whereas Hāpai takes on that policy and advocacy role."

General Manager of Hāpai Te Hauora Mihi Blair says, "We have seen a trend that whānau are quitting over this period of time because it is impacting. The latest EY report that the Ministry of Health conducted showed that this tax increase is working. In terms of us advocating best support for our whānau, that's what we'll be doing in terms of getting the right policy in place."