Health groups are intending to cut duty-free tobacco allowances for travelers.
Several groups proposed to increase tobacco tax announced in the Budget – and all have called for duty-free allowances to be cut and for tobacco tax increases to be much sharper than the proposed increases of 10 % a year over the next 4 years.
The groups include the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, the Heart Foundation, the Maori Medical Practitioners Association, the College of Nurses and Auckland Regional Public Health Service. They want the allowances for duty-free tobacco to be cut.
Travelers can transport no more than 200 cigarettes into New Zealand duty free. Starting with September 1, Australia’s allowance will decrease from 250 to 50.
In 2010 Hong Kong decreased its duty-free allowance from 60 to 19. The United Kingdom has an allowance of 200 cigarettes in case if the traveler did not come from a European Union country. If the traveler comes from an EU country, the amount of cigarettes is unlimited.
The Government has already given its consent to examine the duty-free regulations along with other countries, especially Australia.
Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said it is possible to change duty-free rules, but may be difficult due to international obligations.
Tariana Turia added that they always want to stay informed about tobacco regulation in Australia and the change in duty-free tobacco rules is possible, but there are some difficulties.
According to the Ministry of Health survey, led in 2008, nearly 7.4 % of smoking people purchased tobacco products from duty-free shops.
Norman Sharpe, Heart Foundation medical director, said that duty-free cigarettes were the largest source of black market tobacco in the country, costing $63 million in lost profit.
Trish Fraser, Global Public Health director, said that because of changes in Australia, many duty-free retail dealers said it was meaningful to stock tobacco products at airports.
She said that seeing the good result in Australia, there is a great chance for New Zealand to prohibit the sale of duty-free tobacco products.
The health groups are also joining to call for a 40 % increase in tobacco tax next year, followed by 20 % increases in each of the 3 years after that.
Public health specialist Dr Murray Laugesen in the NZ Medical Journal was first to make that call. The call would raise the cost of a cigarette packet up to $29 after four years, from $13 now.
Under the Budget’s hike of 10 % a year for four years, the price of a cigarette packet would rise to $20.