Nelsonians are quitting smoking in droves as the Government cracks down on cigarette packaging while ramping up the tax on tobacco.
As we move hastily towards the year 2025, the Government’s goal of Smokefree NZ is looking increasingly possible.
May marks the last month that cigarettes can be sold with brand marketing on them.
As of June 6, all packaging will be the same; a dark brown/green background with graphic warning images taking up 75 per cent of the packet.
A small area at the bottom of the packet is allocated to have the brand name in plain font with a restricted size.
Nelsonian Taylor Mant quit smoking nearly three years ago.
“It was making me sick and it cost so much. I’m sure I’ve saved heaps of money and I’m a mum now so would never look back.”
Initiatives such as the Fresh Air Project are gaining popularity around the region. The project encourages local dining establishments to voluntarily make their outdoor areas smokefree and already has 21 local restaurants and cafes registered. Tax on tobacco products increased by 10 per cent on January 1, the second of four annual tax increases of the same amount.
Statistics New Zealand figures puts the average price of a 25 pack of cigarettes at $35.14. In 2010 it was just $13.46.
Haven Road Store owner Dharmendra Patel says that it’s unfair that tobacco users cop all the tax hikes.
“You’ve got McDonald’s that makes the fatty burgers and then caffeine which is another addiction. You don’t see the government increasing their taxes by 10 per cent every year.”
He says that people will still smoke, no matter the cost.
“The younger generation are vaping rather than smoking cigarettes … but the older generation, they will keep smoking no matter what.”
Nelson Marlborough Health communications officer Jane Horder says its Stop Smoking service has seen a growth from 117 referrals in the first quarter of 2017 to over 230 referrals in the first quarter of 2018.
Nelson City Council communications manager Paul Shattock says council remains committed to making the entire city smokefree.
Council has undertaken a trial on smokefree premises since December and 96 percent of people trialled supported the initiative.