All parties backed the bills that brought in the tax passed on a voice vote, but those removing tobacco prices rise from calculations to measure benefit CPI increases were opposed by New Zealand First, the Greens and Mana with 98 to 23 in favour.
Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said lifting the excise duty would reduce smoking rates especially amongst younger people who were sensitive to price signals.
Turia said by 2016 the average price of a packet of cigarettes would rise to more than $20 and would make smoking unaffordable for many.
She defended taking tobacco prices out of the CPI indexing calculation for benefit increases saying it would not make sense to help fund smokers when trying to increase the cost of tobacco to them.
Increasing the price is a very effective measure for discouraging from smoking in the first place and encouraging smokers to quit.
I support this measure but wonder how much higher the price will go before it encourages a black market.
Keeping tobacco prices out of the CPI for benefit calculations will no doubt be seen as more beneficiary bashing but I don’t see why taxpayers should be funding people’s addiction to smoking.