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Is the government putting tax dollars before the health of smokers?

Posted on October 23, 2019


In 2015/16 smoking killed over 20,000 Australians and cost the country $136 billion, according to a new report. The report concludes that Australia 'needs to continue to invest in strategies to prevent and reduce smoking, and the associated significant morbidity and mortality’.

The government's response was to throw a few crumbs into tobacco control

The report Identifying the Social Costs of Tobacco Use to Australia in 2015/16 was prepared by the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University and was launched by Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday.

The Health Minister announced an additional $5 million for tobacco control, bringing the total allocation for a public education campaign for the next 4 years to $25 million.

ATHRA's view is that $6.25 million per year is a totally inadequate budget for the leading cause of preventable death and illness. This is a tiny portion of the $17.4 billion tobacco tax collected in the last financial year

The report found that smoking is highly profitable for the government.

‘From a purely financial perspective, the Australian Government in 2015/16 raised more revenue in tobacco excise ($9.8 billion) than it lost through smoking attributable costs and loss of other revenue ($2.2 billion)’ the report found

Australia has the highest cigarette prices in the world and the tobacco tax is now Australia's fourth largest tax after personal income tax, company tax and GST.

The greatest share of the costs of smoking is carried by the most disadvantaged and impoverished members of society who have the highest smoking rates. The skyrocketing tobacco tax is contributing to social and financial inequalities.

More of the tax collected should be used to help and support smokers who wish to quit, rather than to balance the budget.

The government will increase the tobacco tax again by 12.5% next year, claiming this is to help smokers quit. However, smokers think they are being cynically exploited and punished. Many addicted smokers simply cannot quit nicotine, no matter how high the cost of smoking.

A goal without a plan

Mr Hunt re-announced the national goal of reaching a 10% daily adult smoking rate by 2025, far below New Zealand's goal of 5% by 2025. However, no new policy is  being offered to reach this target and it is bound to fail.

One neglected solution is to legalise vaping nicotine. Vaping is increasing quit rates and reducing smoking prevalence in many western countries while smoking rates stagnate in Australia

Importantly for the Treasury, legalising vaping would carry no cost to the public purse as vapers pay for their own supplies.

If policy was guided by science, vaping nicotine would be widely available now in Australia. However, it seems tobacco policy is driven by politics, ideology and emotion and smokers are paying with their lives as well as their pockets.

Report

Identifying the Social Costs of Tobacco Use to Australia in 2015/16. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University.2019

Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, colin@athra.org.au


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32 Replies to “Is the government putting tax dollars before the health of smokers?”

Scott

No surprise were the gov is concerned. More tax means more money for them. Don't worry about the 10s of 1000s of people who die every year 😡

Darrell Veal

Sort of makes me wonder what the government is really up to, last year 8 billion raised, cost of smoking on looking after smokers was 134million or so. Just imagine how much better the economy would be if a fair tax covered health costs, smokers would then be spending that extra money on other things helping the economy. Dumb ignorant governments and dumb ignorant do gooders controlling peoples individual rights. Our own human rights are being undermined by these fools.

Sam

No great surprise here
Elect ordinary people to government and get ordinary results
Greg Hunt and Scott Morrison are as fucken ordinary as they get
These insidious twats ram this shit through during a fucking pandemic when everyone’s focussed on not getting the Chinese virus they allowed into the country with planeloads of Wuhans finest landing at will
Just goes to show these parasites couldn’t give a fuck about anyones health and only care about beefing up tax revenues
How about challenging these fuckwits in the high court
No that’s right I forgot this countries so apathetic and neutered it couldn’t fight its way out of a paper bag
Let the fuckwits run the show
Thanks to all the fuckwits that voted the liberal party in and gave us greg cunt

Benny

Well said mate! This fucking government is all about greed with fuck all results! Alcohol still kills more people a year and along with it, domestic violence, depression etc.. not that I want more taxes on piss either! As a smoker, what a fucking joke this nation has become.. another thing no one realised at the time, plain packaging was a deal no doubt cut between big tobacco and the government as the printing and packaging costs savings alone now would be millions! I would know I’m in the trade. Weeds cheaper too smoke now and no government grub tax!

steff sandor

Yep exactly benny..it was ok to advertise the stuff in the 70s on TV and such..now we treated like lepers..I think a class action is needed…116 buks for 50gm winny reds .wat a fukin joke. Wait till people are getting robbed and killed for the stuff..nanny country in full swing. Sad

Peter

I think the government should use a lot more of the cigarette tax billions to help the nicotine addicted poorer people to kick the habit and I’ll be asking my MP on Monday why they aren’t doing this

Bob

Well we live in a great country good people, why is the leaders of our country hell bent on bending middle and low class people over and fucking them good and proper with these fucked up taxes , Julia Gillard brought in her tax idea magically all the pollies got a massive pay rise?show me the money you bunch of greedy fuckers!!!!!

Brett

I’m hearing you Bob

Scott

Yes , we must cast our opinion to our MPs more . Where is Robin Hood and hi smoking men to help us!

Robin

I cannot kick the habit, been smoking 35 years.
High taxes means people like me, go broke, then suicide.
That is what's happening now around Australia, they just not telling you

steff sandor

Yep exactly..everyone send an email to ya mps..keep bombarding them till they take some action

peter

I'm sick of the mongrel government everything i have read here i agree with just money hungry bastards. i despise them so much i can't wait till my life is over i look forward to leaving this glorified life of slavery and dictation. I have never cost the australian health system anything but have given the government so much tax after forty years of smoking. i am now fifty six years old and havn't cost them anything for smoking . when it happens or happens that i get sick from it is my problem not theirs and i already paid more than enough if i needed help. But hopefully i will go fast anyway. don't care about retirement or living in a nursing home it all sucks and depresses me.

C Marriott

As a smoker for over 40yrs it is obvious the govt has disproportionately increased taxes on tobacco, the 1st pk of cigarettes I purchased cost me .58cents, even then this was pocket change or lunch money, now it costs me as much as my rent, over $300/week to smoke. I believe those addicted in such circumstances should be given a discounted rate on tobacco & if smoking is as damaging as claimed, I should already be dead & let govts ban tobacco altogether foregoing the tax collected therefrom.

Brett

C Marriott , up till 1974 we were taught about our constitutional rights and laws in schools, it is called the Magna Carta anis still our true and correct constitutional rights and laws, however it has been stopped from being taught in schools as the government doesn’t want anyone to know of it and came up with what we know these days! Our Governments and their departments have a lot to explain to us about ACT’s and including our privacy/ stored information of all of us , the Privacy Act only is valid in Australia so how does this work when our information is stored overseas ? It doesn’t! We have no privacy at all ! The Federal and state governments including departments such as the police ect are all funded by the taxpayers, so how is it legally possible for these to have ABN’s registered businesses and you will find The Australian Federal Government is registered on the American stock exchange with an ABN ? Census has an ABN ! Are you starting to get the picture? So all Governments concerned are slimey and corrupt in the taxes they have imposed especially in the recent years saying high taxes on cigarettes is for health reasons not revenue! The government is not worried about health, if they were there wouldn’t be any homeless Australian taxpayers ! The government tried to put a gst on women’s sanitary needs, it was stopped after women spoke up about this, the government now have a gst on women’s sanitary goods but did this behind all concerned, also a gst on condoms , the government for us as smokers have less rights but pay bigger taxes than none smokers, classic case of discrimination! But used as this under health reasons and probably illegal laws! In early days and even know all cigarettes are imported subject to another tax on top of what we pay , double dipping from the government! Who are the cigarette suppliers? Rich companies that line our Governments pockets, where are the from America and England for example! So yes The Australian Government is profiteering of our nicotine addiction ! They as a business only look after businesses , paid of to be exact! Can you remember Robin Hood and the king of Sherwood? That’s where we are now, the king takes from the poor! Why don’t all our recent government letter heads say OHMS anymore? Because they have shafted all of us, to my understanding as long as the Queens head is on our legal tender/ currency OHMS still exists as the same for the Magna Carta, this cannot be removed from any government or politicians, it our constitution and legal rights ! Our legal constitution says that the government must protect us in which they have failed due to allowing these tobacco products to be sold here in order to gain money! How about we all sue the government for the addition they supplied in the first place, a civil law suit! For r discrimination on a product they allowed to get people addicted to make profit ! Cartel one would think! No corruption here in Australia haha ! Welcome to Communist Australia !

Scott

So true ! Civil lawsuit. We need a Robin Hood ! ! We are being taken for fool’s. How did Australia end up so bad ! We have to STOP this communist government ! !

Hadenough

I was thinking about seeing some lawyers for a class action about the cost to taxpayers.
It's getting ridiculous the price for a pack of smokes. I could of bought a house with the amount of tax we pay.
Mention sugar tax and everyone loses it. I'm sure obesity and associated issues are costing the health system as much , if not more than smokers.
Not many people know about the future fund supposedly set up to help us , if needed , when we're older.

steff sandor

My grandad smoked like a train..he lived to 98

Tanaya

I am one of those who are on the poverty line, I worry about finances whenever I am awake and I have had health problems from my teenage years ( nothing to do with my chest, lungs or heart ) I have been smoking for forty years.

Where was the government then telling us the dangers and punishing us for doing so, where was the government when my alcoholic husband didn’t Punish him with huge taxes, while he beat me for ten years as he was an aggressive violent alcoholic, of course I divorced him as it was the logical thing to do.

Where is our greedy governments logic ?

I’m now in a place in my life where the genetic diseases are worse but without the tax hike on cigarettes I would not have as much financial stress that adds to my depression and anxiety from the pain of my diseases on top.

If the Government used basic logic they would realise this will not work on those barely surviving as we smoke because we are stressed and full of anxiety, when my body is in need of good food, they were happy to get me started all those years ago and now after all these years I’m deeply addicted they want me to believe they need 8 billion dollars a year to cover illness through smoking only.

I wasn’t born yesterday this is about filling their coiffures, damn the poor, who are only trying to find a way to get through the week and make it bearable.they failed our generation but hopefully not the current generation and for them vaping should be available and the fact it isn’t is proof they are lining their pockets with the money from the low income, disabled and people with mental health issues and that is immoral on so many levels !!!

Robin

I am 50, been smoking since 16 due to the government encouraging me to do so at the time.
Now they have captured us, they can tax us until we have no more money.
I going through my super now, it will not be long before that is gone.
I refuse to be destitute, I will kill myself when that time comes, due to the government cigarette taxes.
I just waiting till the government sends me broke.
Scott Morriston, my suicide, is on your head

steff sandor

No dude.then they win fuk em.hang around and join us in making their life hell

steff sandor

Its beyond a joke..for us over 55 who got hooked on the stuff when advertising smokes on the tele was around..have now have to go without decent food cause of our habbit..give up?..yes I've tried 3 times so how about we get a discount of sorts

Jezza419

I just read a report "Tobacco excise: historical trends and forecasting methodology" June 1019 for The Australian Government Treasury.
They know smoking is in decline. That is what this report is about. How to keep the money rolling in when less people are smoking. That is how I read it anyway.

Nicholas Schlensky

They love the money so much and don't give a toss about the harm they are causing to working Australians. Cigarettes do cause harm but the govt should use other means to discourage use.
In the decades to come when people are living 20 yrs longer I guess the pension will be impossible to pay for. The govt just wants money now even if they will have to look after old age pensioners for an extra 20 yrs?

Unknown

So where is the amazing cancer research facility that my addiction is paying for? If we are paying in advance for future problems that may arise due to our own imperfections as humans, should we see some benefit from these taxes?

Ann

Would love to know how only 2.5 million tobacco smokers apparently cost the Government 136 billion in related costs. This is the highest taxed product in the Country, and yet nothing is being offered to smokers as a real solution to quitting.

Ebi

Australia had a very flourishing tobacco industry, until some dickhead do-gooder fucked up the industry and made several growers bankrupf. It did not stop the addicted smoker who are now struggling to make ends meet. Once again Australia has the highest cost for cigarettes and should be ashamed to steal from the poor, cigarettes in Europe are half or less than in Australia, disgusting to witness our incompetent Government to bend over for the rich and steal from the poor! Remember Hocking sitting outside parliament and smocking his $ 50. cigars ? Big grin on his face, yep, that's the arseholes you voted for 😡😰🤮

Kevin

Why is it that the Australian Government never introduces labels for alcohol as they have for cigarettes.l would love to see a big fatty scared liver damaged kidneys or a burst pancreas on a bottle of Penfolds Grange.l don’t understand why alcohol gets a free pass all the time.Australian culture seems to think your some kind of hero if you drink yourself into a blackout stage and vomit all over yourself.l have never known of a smoker smoking 20 cigarettes getting in the car and killing a family on the road as a drinker with 20 drinks under their belt.I know for a fact that drinking alcohol is more of a problem in society as l am a alcoholic in recovery the stories l have heard and told are astounding to know this is a major problem in our country.l will say one more thing the Government not out to save smokers just line big fat pockets of Parliament with totally unjustifiable taxes to hard working Australians..

Carman

Well said Kevin I couldn't agree more. I often think Government should be far more accountable to the people than they are. I would love to see them put the actual revenue they get from all tobacco taxes broken down year by year for the last 5 years and also the actual amount spent in each of these years on smokers or ex smokers who have had treatment in that year for lung and bowel cancer then try and justify the massive increases. Booze is even worse than smoking and causes far more misery but somehow it's socially acceptable and a clever thing to do until it too gets you hooked.Bet you won't find that information freely available. It is time we had a voice but the facts are so well hidden creating a valid argument wouldn't be possible. Class action would be good, however those greedy mongrels will have their assets well covered!

Jimmy

I'm 35 years old, I started at 15, a pack of 40s back then was about 9 bux.

This tax hike is just a scheme to line theyre pockets and a breach on our freedoms as adults to choose if we can or can't smoke. We should have the choice. They shouldn't be able to force our hands by robbing our wallets/purses. Its criminal. People will start going to black market smokes. So they'll lose out on those taxes and screw themselves over while encouraging blackmarket tobacco sales…

Ingrid Hultonn

Regarding the ongoing tax excise hikes for a packet of 20 cigarettes, now costing nearly $30, who can I write a letter of complaint to in the regard to the unfairness of this tax?

Is there an Ombudsman who could act on my behalf?
Thanks for your article and asking of messages.

T

The Australian Government will use any excuse to steel of its people, then when the Australian people turn against the government it just kills off its people and brings in other people. Anything to cash up at any cost. So I don’t rely think the government cares about how many deaths are caused by smoking! It’s just a good excuse. Doesn’t get any more week than that!

Lisa

I am a smoker. Been addicted for 45 years. The government is reaping in billions and sending us bankrupt. Government was happy to let us get addicted and now we are being punished. Depression rates in smokers must be going through the roof. We can’t afford to socialise, buy new clothes and a whole stack of other things we now have to go without. No wonder the retail sector has been struggling for years, smokers can’t afford to spend anything. This country is becoming a nazi state. Alcohol kills more people and incites violence among other things. Since when does the government have the right to take away our free choice!!! It is a disgrace!

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