What do you do when you want an entire country to be smoke-free? Or is that even possible?
The government of New Zealand implemented a sharp increase in tobacco taxes, in an effort towards becoming a smoke-free country.
The government announced a 40 percent hike in tobacco taxes over the next four years on Thursday, despite the fact that tobacco prices in the country are already among the highest in the world.
The goal of officials is that the higher taxes, as well as new restrictions, will take New Zealand a step closer towards becoming a totally smoke-free country by 2025. They actually considered taking up the cost of a pack of cigarettes to 100 New Zealand dollars, but that proposal did not pan out. What did, though, was a measure that called for retailers to hide cigarettes below the counter as opposed to putting them on display; this policy will come into effect in July.
Rates of smoking among adults in New Zealand have gone down to about 20 percent, from about 30 percent in 1986. In addition, cigarette sales have fallen sharply, which indicate that even smokers have cut back as cigarette prices increased.
Not everyone, though, is happy about this new development. Understandably, these people consist of existing smokers. Hayley Mauriohooho, a Wellington resident who has smoked for about 20 years, shared: “It’s quite ridiculous for the government to be concentrating on that… They have bigger things to worry about.”
On the other hand, Susan Jones, head of corporate and regulatory affairs of British American Tobacco, said: “Consumer demand is far better served by legitimate companies than by the illegal operators that will surely grow as the government makes it increasingly difficult for people to buy their product of choice.”