How to get to a 5% smoking rate


The Herald reports:

Yearly increases of 20 per cent in tobacco excise tax will be needed to achieve the Government’s target of ultra-low smoking prevalence by 2025, if price rises remain the state’s main policy lever, according to new Christchurch research.

Actually I think you can do it with 10%.

Writing in today’s New Zealand Medical Journal, Dr Murray Laugesen and Professor Randolph Grace, say that if the series of annual 10 per cent excise increases is not renewed after the last of the legislated rises, which is scheduled for next New Year’s Day, adult smoking prevalence will fall only to 10.2 per cent in 2025. This is shown as plot number 1 on the graph below of the researchers’ potential policy scenarios.

The Government’s target is that New Zealand will be largely smokefree by 2025, which is widely interpreted as meaning less than 5 per cent.

So what does it take to get 5%, if the models are accurate?

Well if one continues the annual 10% excise increases, then the projection is to make 6.9%.

But note the two scenarios where electronic cigarettes are legal. They reduce the rate by a further 2%.

So if one continued the annual 10% excise increases (and reduced other taxes to offset the revenue) and legalised the sale of electronic cigarettes, then according to this research by well respected health researchers, we would achieve the smoke-free goal of under 5% by 2025.

That’s a policy prescription I could support.

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