Hāpai Te Hauora calls for tobacco tax to be reinvested into protecting communities, not cigarettes.

 

The government has recently supported new fog cannon technology to deter theft in small stores like dairies. This technology was introduced in response to the raised level of tobacco and cash- related violence being reported by tobacco retailers, especially dairies. Members of the motoring sector who represent service station owners have recently proposed putting tobacco tax revenue into security. This has raised fears from community members.

 

Papatoetoe community advocate, Jasmine Tahana, states:  "I worry about the hostile, distrusting culture that increased security will have. What I see is people at the top dividing and ruling my neighbourhood. They are making dairies feel afraid of their patrons in fear of being robbed, and community members are resentful of dairy owners for selling cigarettes in their neighbourhood".

 

Tobacco excise tax increases were introduced in support of the Smokefree 2025 goal. Hāpai Te Hauora questions what this suggests about our priorities if funding is put into safeguarding tobacco sales. Rather than divisive or punitive measures, the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Manager, Mihi Blair, proposes a tobacco tax reinvestment strategy which prioritises bringing communities together, through activities of recreation, education, and employment.

 

Mihi Blair states: "Hāpai is supportive of reinvesting tobacco tax to enable flourishing and thriving communities. People need to remember - this isn’t just a robbery epidemic, this is a cancer epidemic. We’re losing 5,000 whānau members a year, so we don’t have time to sit around and figure out ways to protect cigarettes".