The Ministry of Health will be commissioning a review of the impact of tobacco tax increases. This will include specific analysis of the existing policies, their effectiveness for Māori and Pacific people and how tobacco tax correlates with outcomes like crime and financial loss.
"We are encouraged by this opportunity to assess the impact of tobacco control policies for our key population groups," said Lance Norman CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora. "While we acknowledge the inequities in smoking for Māori and Pacifica, our mahi is also telling us that for many, the unaffordability of smoking is motivating whānau to quit".
In 2011 the New Zealand Government adopted a Smokefree 2025 goal. This goal is supported by supply reduction policies including the excise tax increases, and funding towards smoking cessation programmes and support for e-cigarettes as a harm reduction tool.
In spite of an overall population decrease, approximately 35% of Māori and 24% of Pacifica adults currently smoke. Hāpai Te Hauora has previously raised concerns about New Zealand's ability to reach the Smokefree 2025 goal which aims to have smoking rates at less than 5% of the population.
"What we don't want to see is stalled progress towards Smokefree 2025," says Norman. "As an organisation, Hāpai advocate for supply reduction policies, including excise taxes. We are compassionate towards those struggling with the financial burdens of smoking and are open to tweaking current policy settings for example, the magnitude of tax increases. However, we still need to focus on preventing uptake and unaffordable pricing is influential in this. Coupling this with decreasing the excessive amount of places tobacco can be brought, at every corner, petrol station and supermarket, we will be able to make the progress needed to reach Smokefree 2025"