Australia - increase tobacco tax 50% - 74% of smokers would try to quit..

April 16, 2009 - Almost three-quarters of smokers (74%) say they would try and quit the habit if cigarette prices increased by 50% according to new research released on April 15th. The research, from the Cancer Council Victoria, also reveals 6 out of 10 regular smokers say they would smoke fewer cigarettes if tobacco prices were to go up by 50%.

Increasing price by 50% would see a typical packet of 30 cigarettes retail at around the $20 mark.

Fiona Sharkie from Quit: "With tobacco claiming 15,000 Australians lives and costing the community $31.5 billion dollars every year it is critical that proven tobacco control strategies, such as price increases, are implemented as soon as possible. On top of quitting smoking being one of the best things you can do for your health, it is also a great way to save money in tough financial times. A pack a day smoker can save almost $5000 a year by quitting. That’s more than two monthly mortgage repayments on the average Australian home loan.”

Professor Ian Olver from Cancer Council Australia said by increasing the cost of cigarettes, the Australian Government would be adopting an effective measure to 'close the gap' in health inequalities.

"Research illustrates price increases not only reduce the number of people smoking but also the amount smoked by remaining smokers, with greater drops observed among those in economically disadvantaged groups."

More than 60% of current smokers were in favor of a tax increase on cigarettes. Maurice Swanson, tobacco control spokesperson for the Heart Foundation: "Tobacco tax, which has not increased in real terms for a decade, has been shown to reduce smoking rates significantly."

Reference: New data reveals a key way to reduce smoking rates and save moneyCancer Council - Australia, 4/15/2009.