An Auckland tobacco researcher says cigarette tax discriminates against Maori, who have the highest rates of smoking.

It comes after the Government decided to continue increasing the tax on tobacco by 10 percent for the next four years.

New Zealand has a tall target of being smoke-free in just nine years, and last week's Budget introduced more tobacco taxes to help that.

But researcher Marewa Glover says because Maori and Pacific people are the biggest smokers, the taxes are discrimination.

"What's racist about it is it's a policy that's applied to everybody, but not everybody is smoking at same prevalence rates," she says.

The price for a packet will now hit $30 in four years. Ms Glover says these minority groups are bearing the brunt of the Government's punitive measures.

"I think it's really hard-hitting and it's cruel in this environment we're in, with people under a lot of financial strain."

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