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Cheaper Cigarettes Good And Bad News For Quit-Smoking Group

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Cheaper Cigarettes Good And Bad News For Quit-Smoking Group

Auckland, July 3 NZPA - The move by tobacco companies to drop cigarette prices is both good and bad news, an organisation helping smokers to quit said today.

Over the past few weeks, both British American Tobacco New Zealand and Imperial Tobacco have cut the price of some brands by as much as $1.10.

The Quit Group's executive director, Helen Glasgow, said the reductions indicated that demand for cigarettes had fallen and tobacco companies were trying to entice customers back.

"That is the good news," she said.

"It's the first I've heard of cigarette prices going down, which is quite surprising. It probably means, because of tight times, people are smoking less and thinking more about quitting."

The group runs quit-smoking programmes, including Quitline, which offers free telephone support nationally, as well as internet and text services, which Ms Glasgow said 48,000 people used in the past year.

However, she said the price reductions were also a cause for concern, as price was a key factor in whether people continued to smoke.

"It's also more likely young people will buy cigarettes if they become more affordable," she said.

"That is always a worry for us. Internationally, the countries that have the highest prices have the lowest prevalence of smoking."

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said tobacco companies appeared to be treading a fine line by making smoking more affordable in the economic recession.

Last month, Mrs Turia advised the Ministry of Health to investigate whether the price reductions were legal under the Smokefree Environments Act.

"I have huge concerns about what they are doing," she said.

"It is outrageous that on one hand the Government is spending millions of taxpayer money to stop smoking addiction and on the other hand these companies are enticing smokers to consume more."

Mrs Turia said she expected feedback from the ministry by the end of the month.

If the companies were found to be in breach of the Act, she would not hesitate to recommend that they be taken to court.

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