March 11, 2011 - Health Minister Nicola Roxon has moved to extinguish any suggestion Labor could increase the tobacco excise in the May budget. Ms Roxon was forced to stub out the speculation after the government's indigenous smoking coordinator, Tom Calma, said another tax hike had been "mooted".
Labor increased the excise by 25 per cent in April 2010, adding $2.16 to the price of a pack of 30 smokes. Australia - tobacco tax increase now in force, next comes plain tobacco packaging.. The government's preventative health taskforce had recommended a 68 per cent increase in the excise.
But in responding to the taskforce's findings in May the government argued that while hiking prices could cause some smokers to quit "it can also induce financial stress among people who continue to smoke". "The government has therefore not decided to pursue the full 68 per cent increase in excise advocated by the taskforce at this time." On Thursday, March 10th Ms Roxon said the government hadn't changed its mind.
"The government was clear in the Taking Preventative Action (response) paper in May 2010 that we will not pursue the full 68 per cent increase in excise advocated by the national preventative health taskforce," a spokesman for the minister said in a statement.
Earlier, Mr Calma was asked at the National Press Club in Canberra whether he would like to see the government increase the tobacco tax in the budget. "I believe that's mooted," he said, adding "that's something for government to determine". Mr Calma, who noted he was only a consultant to the commonwealth, believes making cigarettes more expensive is effective in reducing smoking rates.
"We did see a big spike on access to Quitline ... following the announcement." (Australia - tobacco tax increase results in more people quitting..)
Many Aboriginal people who didn't quit still reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked so the packet would last longer, Mr Calma said. "That's an important start because the three key goals are prevention, reduction and then cessation."
Reference: Tobacco tax hike talk stubbed out, Source: AAP (Australian Associated Press), World News _ Australia, 3/10/2011.