Sun | Aug 20, 2017

New Zealanders to pay $20 for cigarette pack under tax plan

Published:Friday | May 27, 2016 | 5:00 AM
Finance Minister Bill English discusses the annual budget with analysts and the media in Wellington, New Zealand, yesterday. Smokers and polluters in the country will get hit with higher taxes as part of the government's economic plan.

WELLINGTON (AP):

Smokers in New Zealand will pay US$20 for a pack of cigarettes under the government's budget plan released yesterday. Polluting industries will also get hit with higher taxes.

In its annual budget, the government forecasts that rising fiscal surpluses in coming years will allow it to begin paying down its public debt.

The government plans to hike tobacco taxes by 46 per cent over the next four years as it continues an ambitious campaign to eliminate smoking from the South Pacific nation by 2025. Once the taxes are in place, a pack of 20 cigarettes will cost about NZ$30 (US$20), one of the highest prices in the world.

Indigenous Maori have relatively high smoking rates, and the tax plan was pushed by the Maori Party. Te Ururoa Flavell, the party's co-leader, said it was the right thing to do, even if cost his constituents more money.