Hike in Cigarette Tax Proposed in Australia, Anti-tobacco Ads Fail to Make Impact

by Gopalan on  May 17, 2009 at 11:11 AM General Health News
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 Hike in Cigarette Tax Proposed in Australia, Anti-tobacco Ads Fail to Make Impact
A suggestion for hike in tax on cigarettes is gathering momentum in Australia, even as a study shows that anti-tobacco ads fail to discourage the youth.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull first suggested lifting excise on cigarettes rather than means testing the private health insurance rebate. The term means test refers to an investigative process undertaken to determine whether or not an individual or family is eligible to qualify for help from the government. 

Mr.Turnbull is for increasing the excise to 12.5 per cent, which would increase the price of a single cigarette by about 3 cents.

He has also indicated that the substantial drop in government revenue means the Opposition will re-examine the alcopops tax hike when its back before parliament in a few weeks.

Ms Roxon has told Sky television that if Mr Turnbull sees the benefit in increasing the tax on cigarettes, he should pass the alcopops measure.

"I certainly agree that tax measures can have a health impact, and that's what I have been arguing for over 12 months with the alcopops tax," she said.

"I think of course that can apply to tobacco, we've seen in terms of history, Australia has done successfully on that."

Earlier, the Government insinuated that the Opposition's tax proposal on cigarettes showed that the opposition wants working class people to subsidise private health insurance for the rich.

"It would look like Malcolm Turnbull wants ordinary working people to pay that tax increase in order to subsidise the health insurance of people like him," Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner  said.

"I just don't see the justice in that. I think what we put forward on private health insurance is entirely reasonable.

"It is something that is necessary because we've got to set out sails for more difficult budgetary circumstances in the future."

Meantime a study has found anti-smoking advertisements are not making young smokers kick the habit.

The research conducted by the University of Sydney involved 63 smokers and former smokers aged between 18 and 26.

Researcher Emily Kothe attended a Heart Foundation conference in Brisbane today, ABC News reported.

She says anti-smoking ads led to a 16 per cent decrease in smokers' cravings for a cigarette, but the ads were not enough to make smokers quit.

"We have to realise that it's not necessarily enough to tell people that smoking is bad," he said.

"We need to tell them that it is actually bad for them and that they will get the illnesses rather than smokers in general, because in particular young people are very good at thinking illnesses won't happen to them."

Ms Kothe says the findings indicate ads which target young people, showing the immediate consequences of smoking such as social isolation, may be needed.

"They were saying things like 'this isn't what stops me from smoking,' or 'it's a start but it's not enough'," she said.

"In particular a lot of people commented that they found that the diseases that were discussed in the ads weren't things that they actually thought were relevant to them."

Source: Medindia

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