Today the Government will increase excise tax on tobacco by 10%. This is in support of Smokefree 2025, and sits alongside other complementary measures such as smoking cessation programmes, regulation of e-cigarettes to enable their use as a harm-reduction tool and local government action in support of smokefree environments. By 2020 a standard pack of 20 cigarettes is expected to rise to cost about $30 if the Government remains committed to the 10% rise per annum announced in Budget 2016.

"We commend Ministers David Clark and Jenny Salesa for remaining steadfast in their commitment to a Smokefree 2025, which was laid down by Dame Tariana Turia and Hone Harawira. We need to be able to offer our people the best possible chance to be smokefree." says Lance Norman CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora. "The Government is under more pressure than ever from lobby groups who want to see a halt in excise tax increases, with the increase in robberies and crime associated with tobacco being used as an excuse. Tobacco tax increases are not the underlying reason for these robberies, and we need to be careful we are not playing into a story that the tobacco industry is attempting to create in order to stop us reaching smokefree 2025 goal".

Norman acknowledges that retailers have valid concerns about safety following a year of media reports of tobacco-related theft and violence centred around dairies and service stations but he is adamant that cancelling tax increases is not the answer.

"We support these small businesses in wanting to be free from violence. Nobody should have to be afraid of going to work. But making tobacco easier to buy isn't the answer, as it is not the real reasons behind the robberies. The Government would be best to take a blanket approach to removing the selling of cigarettes in dairies, so there is less overall tobacco in our communities, and dairies feel like they are being treated equally to avoid retail competition. This is actually a great opportunity for the Government and dairy owners to come together to take a stand against selling a product which kills its consumers, by saying no to tobacco like the Glasgow Street Dairy in Whanganui or Moshims Discount Dairy in Palmerston North. These business owners feel safer and they are doing their communities a service by removing this harmful product from their shelves. Now we just need to make it easier for other dairies to follow suit, by not allowing it to be sold at dairies at all. .Additionally we need to be looking at the underlying causes of the robberies - drug use, poverty and how we can better support those who are struggling with these issues"

Hāpai Te Hauora advocates a supply reduction approach to tobacco control which prioritises removing tobacco from our communities, increasing access to e-cigarettes and e-juice as a compassionate approach to helping people quit tobacco, while redirecting the income from excise taxes into proven smoking cessation programmes, with a focus on those most affected by tobacco-related harm - Māori whānau. Māori smoking rates remain persistently high despite a downward trend overall in smoking rates with a 35.3% rate compared with a 15.7% smoking rate for all populations-

-Source: NZ Health Survey 2016-17