‘Charge $20 a packet for cigarettes’

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Sam Roberts gave up smoking for the sake of his family. Picture: Greg Higgs
Source: AdelaideNow

Smokers react to the federal government’s 25 per cent tax increase on cigarettes.

LEADING doctors in South Australia have called for the price of cigarettes to be further increased after the latest tax hike failed to significantly deter smokers.

The Australian Medical Association SA says the Federal Government’s 25 per cent tax increase on May 1 – an average jump of about $2.16 for a pack of 30 – was inadequate.

Figures obtained by The Advertiser show calls to Quit SA have only increased by 10 per cent, from 190 a week before the tax increase to 210 a week.

However, in the four weeks immediately following the rise, calls did reach over 300 a week.

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The Federal Government expected the tax increase to generate an extra $5 billion in revenue over four years.

AMA SA Acting President Jon Sporne said there was good evidence to show that raising the price of cigarettes does reduce consumption.

“The AMA’s position is that the price increase was inadequate and we would certainly support any more increases,” he said. Dr Sporne recommended raising the average price to $20 for a pack of 30.

It was revealed yesterday that Coles is importing cigarettes from Germany and selling them at discount prices to lure low-income smokers into its supermarkets. They are believed to be the cheapest on the market since the tax rise.

Australian Retailers Association Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said retailers had not reported a drop in cigarette sales but customers were instead cutting back on luxury items including chocolates and magazines.

“Generally speaking, smoking is really a very hard habit to break so people are still buying the same amount of cigarettes,” he said.

Quit SA Manager David Edwards said calls to Quitline nearly doubled in the initial weeks following the increase but have since tapered off.

Sam Roberts, 22, from Salisbury East said he quit smoking four-and-a-half weeks ago for the sake of his boys Maison, 2, and Jordan, 12 weeks. He started smoking nine years ago at the age of 13 to “be popular”.

The rising cost was an extra incentive to quit.

“At first it didn’t (make much difference) but now I have another child as well,” Mr Roberts said.

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