Friday, January 26, 2024

Roman Travers: It seems the Associate Health Minister has lost the plot

For the record, New Zealand doesn’t have a minister for the tobacco industry. Or does it?

The Associate Health Minister, Casey Costello is being labelled by some as the Minister for the Tobacco Industry, based on a proposal that’s yet to be confirmed by Casey Costello, that she wants to see a 3-year freeze on the tobacco tax.

What this means is that cigarettes would be insulated from the full impact of inflation under a proposal from the New Zealand First Associate Health Minister.

At the moment, tobacco excise is increased each year in line with the Consumer Price Index. Apart from gathering a swag of tax, it’s a way to encourage smokers to give up.

Health Coalition Aotearoa co-chairperson, Boyd Swinburn has come out all gun’s firing and smoking, saying that Casey Costello needs to be stripped of her duties and that she’s lost all credibility as an Associate Minister of Health.

After all the work done over the decades to encourage smokers to give up the darts, after all the hard work by previous governments and former iterations of The Ministry of Health, why on earth would you give smokers a tax cut now?

This kind of idiotic, retrospective policy change, ties in quite nicely with this Governments position on ‘Smoke Free New Zealand’ by 2025. It’s all too hard, so why bother?

Governments have acknowledged that smoking is an important aspect of tax gathering. So where would this government look to recoup the loss on this proposed, preposterous policy?

The Director of Action on Smoking and Health, Ben Youden, also says that this proposal simply doesn’t make much sense.

There’s a problem here with addiction, I realise that; but it seems that under this proposal, we’re just aiding and abetting those on the fags, to keep incinerating precious money that’d be better spent elsewhere.

Smoking related experts say that prices on tobacco need to walk a fine line between deterring smokers and not financially hindering those addicted. Surely Casey Costello can see that all this does is incentivise more smokers to smoke more, for longer.

Costello has also proposed removing the excise tax from smokeless tobacco products, where the tobacco is heated to a vapour rather than burned.

It would appear to me that The Associate Health Minister has completely lost the plot.

If this policy goes ahead there’ll be more outrage from those healthcare professionals who deal with smoking related diseases each and every day. What a kick in the toolbox for all of them. What possible motivation could an Associate Health Minister have for such mindless proposal?

I also wonder just how many focus groups Casey Costello held with healthcare professions around the county to get their input on this proposal? I can almost certainly guarantee that the answer to that – will be absolutely none.

No one in their right mind would ever suggest that effectively encouraging more New Zealander’s to continue smoking, is ever going to be a good idea.

Roman Travers has held many roles within radio, TV, and as a voice over artist. This article was first published HERE


Anonymous said...

If the tax keeps increasing the criminal gangs will start increasing sales. The differential between illegal tobacco and legal tobacco can’t be to wide otherwise the tax take will drop and the gangs will benefit.
As usual all the reporting completely misses the point.

Anonymous said...

Cigarettes are about tax and choice. Tax is a government matter. Choice is for individuals. So government can either hike the tax and put more burden on the fewer people who choose to keep smoking, or take more tax at a lower rate assuming it is still within the price point at which people choose to smoke.

If the belief is that smoking is wrong and can only be cured with tax, how about sugar and alcohol?

I am not a smoker and never have been. To me it is dirty, antisocial and needy behaving. But if people want to waste their health and their money on cigarettes then let them. If they are too stupid to learn about health risks or if they ignore them then that is a personal decision. And ditto I have the choice whether to be around them - certainly my home is a strict no smoking zone.

The government has way more important things to focus on. To quite Tremain: how to think not what to think.

Anonymous said...

If tax cures smoking here’s another tax well worth the effort- use tax to cure throw away fashion ie that nasty ill fitting tacky body coverage made with exploitative labour, chemically manufactured ‘fabric’ or ‘yarn’ which is then tossed out after one or two wears , its disposal being on the NIMBY principle ie make how to get rid of it some one else’s problem eg India or Asia. I have seen mountains of this stuff eg in Cambodia and frankly, it is scary. And disgusting. And humiliating for those too poor to have any choice about other people’s fancy whims and irresponsibility.

PS I am multiple taxed for travelling but it hasn’t cured me from this evil.

Tom Logan said...

No Mr Travers you have that absolutely wrong. No one is proposing a reduction in taxation, what may have been looked at is no further increase in the tax on tobacco for the next 3 years. That is absolutely totally different.

What may have been considered is the number of children of smokers that go to school hungry, or whose parents can't provide a warm dry bed or an evening mail, or a raincoat or shoes.

Maybe at nearly $40 a packet so many smokers are so heavily addicted that further increases in tax are pointless.

Maybe they can feed their kids instead.

If your analysis had been part of a school written English comprehension test you would have failed Mr Travers. But that's main stream media in New Zealand these days.

Anonymous said...

You miss the point.
Tobacco cannot be uninvented.
The issue is about choice and freedom.
Time to stop telling people what they can and can't do.

Ken said...

In a live interview on The Platform this morning, Casey Costello emphasized that no decisions had been made. She had asked the Ministry of Health for a briefing on possible options. She has not yet received the response from the Ministry, but some person has leaked it to the media. It apparently contains one line mentioning a possible excise tax freeze and this has been blown out of proportion by the mainstream media. Casey said any such decision would need to go through cabinet/caucus before being approved.

Anonymous said...

When government stops using our taxes to pay for the brown clown stuff, maybe not as much tax will be needed and/or it could be used for better advantage.

Anonymous said...

The greatest proportion of smokers are poor and they will have no interest in smoking more if the price were to fall in real terms.
This is a religion and as stated above a tax on carbohydrates and sugar would have a much stronger case than elevating tax and thus enabling gangs cash-flow on smoking which is sliding down to 5% of an isolated portion of the public.

Anonymous said...

Stop funding the brown clowns , less tax is required, spend tax that we all have to pay on proper civic matters eg education, health that benefit society as a Whole. Taxing things out of existence creates worse problems eg as one commentator has noted, criminal enterprise ( which is not taxed).

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

They lost the plot when they started taxing tobacco ostensibly to cover the anticipated additional healthcare costs for smokers. According to their figures non-smokers live 14 years longer than smokers. That's 14 years of Superannuation payments and geriatric care costs that rise exponentially after age 70. They should be subsidising smoking and save the govt lots of money that way!

Anonymous said...

I too listened to Casey on The Platform this morning.
She was very clear - there have been no proposals made, she requested advice on a wide range of options.
She comes across as entirely sincere in wanting to explore and debate all options in order to select the best ones. There was no political spin or question dodging or blaming someone else.
Well worth a listen, especially if you are interested in the truth