The government has continued its fight against smoking by raising the price of cigarettes. As of today smokers will pay an extra $1.12 (pack of 20) to $2.81 (pack of 50) for cigarettes.

This excise equates to a 12.5 per cent increase; the second of four scheduled increases.

These price hikes were thought of and initially implemented by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former Treasurer Chris Bowen. The idea was to shore up their budget black hole while also reducing the strain on the medical system by cutting smoking related illnesses.

The Abbott government has continued the excise increases plus added its own tax hike. For a pack of 25 the price increase will be $1.41, of that 13 cents of tax has been slipped quietly in by the cu

rrent government.

The four-fold excise increase is set for its third rise in September next year, with the final one in September 2016. Of course the price of cigarettes will further inflate with the normal twice a year indexation.

Image: www.2gb.com

Image: www.2gb.com

Smokers’ Rights Party spokesman, Clinton Mead, was outraged at the excise saying the only winners would be organised crime. With every price rise more people turn to illicit tobacco, known as ‘chop-chop’, handled through the black market.

“It’s in the billions of dollars a year organised crime is now making from tobacco sales.”

Mr Mead likened the extortionate rate of tobacco to a ‘de facto prohibition,’ which effectively penalises legal businesses.

Mr Mead went to say that smoking actually saves the government money!

The costs associated with the health system, he said, are far greater than those collected by the excise. “Dying in our public health system is an expensive process. It sill costs money, whether you die at age 70 from lung cancer or at age 90 with dementia – the only difference is you’re paid less pension.”

“Anything which makes people live for a shorter amount of time, provided they don’t die before retirement age, will save the government money. There is no justification for taxing smoking on public health grounds. It’s pure nanny state.”

President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Professor Mike Daube of Curtain University, responded: “If anybody is arguing we should kill people younger to save money, that’s just ridiculous. This is obviously a mickey mouse group pursuing silly and uninformed arguments.”

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