Robberies showing the limit to tax increases

The Herald reports:

About $40,000 worth of cigarettes were stolen from a Palmerston shop and thousands of dollars’ worth from a Maheno garage yesterday.

Sergeant Blair Wilkinson, of Oamaru, said police were investigating whether the burglaries, at 5.30am and 4.20am, were linked.

Cigarette robberies have been increasing – there were a series of them in Dunedin in January at service stations.

There seems to be a cigarette related robbery a week.

Increases in the excise tax have been a good tool in the past to reduce the level of smoking. It has worked. But there is a limit to how far you can go until you get the unintended consequences such as a . When alcohol was prohibited in the US, the black market prospered.

I don’t think we can do any further tax increases (beyond those announced) without fueling the black market to such a level that lives will be lost in these robberies.

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