Victoria, Australia - make cigarettes $20 a pack, doctors urge..

Dr. Harry Hemley, President AMA-Victoria..

December 28, 2009 - Victorian doctors are calling on the state government to raise the cost of cigarettes to $20 a pack to help cut smoking rates.

Background: Public Health Association of Australia President Mike Daube said Australia had not had a significant tax increase on tobacco for 10 years and was one of the lowest tobacco-taxing countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). "It's time for taxes on tobacco to be increased." (Australia - social cost of smoking $31 billion to economy..)

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) Victoria on Monday, December 28th called on the government to introduce a new tobacco transaction tax that would raise the cost of a pack of 30 cigarettes to about $20 from July 2012. AMA Victoria president Harry Hemley said that in a survey this year, three quarters of smokers said they would quit if the price of cigarettes rose by half.

"A significant price increase should be the next step in reducing the addiction, disease and death we see from cigarette smoking," Dr Hemley said in a statement.
"Children are particularly price sensitive, so a steep increase in the cost of smokes should see less children taking up this destructive habit."

The proposal would raise the cost of smokes by 10 cents a cigarette in July 2010, 15 cents in 2011 and another 20 cents in July 2012.

Smoking was the largest cause of preventable disease in Victoria, causing around 4,000 deaths each year, Dr Hemley said.

"The federal government has failed to implement substantial tobacco increases. It is now time for the Victorian government to take matters into its own hands and introduce a tobacco transaction levy."

References: Make cigarettes $20 a pack, doctors urge, Australian Associated Press (AAP), 12/28/2009; Cigarette price hike next step in reducing deaths,, 12/28/2009.

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