SMOKERS in New Zealand will be hit with a 10 per cent increase in the price of cigarettes each year for the next four years.
Parliament passed the law on Tuesday, on a unanimous vote.
Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said the increases meant an average pack of 20 cigarettes would cost more than $NZ20 in 2016.
“Smoking is by far New Zealand’s leading avoidable cause of premature death,” she said during the third reading debate on the bill.
“Increasing tobacco tax is the single most effective measure and my goal is to reduce tobacco consumption because it saves lives.”
Mrs Turia denied the excise increase was about gathering more money for the government.
“It’s not about revenue, we should not play politics with such a serious issue,” she told opposition MPs.
The increases were announced in the May budget. The first will be on January 1 next year.