Wednesday 28 April 2010

Ummm...didn't I just say....

...that the collected tobacco excise taxes, even by the admission of the healthists, are much much greater than the costs on the health care system from smoking?

Didn't I just post that? Ah, yes. And this isn't new news: it's been true for years.

But, their deal with the Maori Party will have excise taxes rise 10% this year and 10% next year, and bigger increases on loose-leaf tobacco to bring it into line with rolled tobacco.

Think ACT will ever get a 10% or 20% reduction in the tax on anything as a part of its coalition deal? Hmmm.

You know who I really feel bad for? The folks who voted National thinking they'd get less nanny-state as consequence. And, worse, the folks who campaigned for them on that basis. Think harder about it next time, guys.


  1. There seems to be a real desire in "middle" NZ for nanny state control, but only so long as it only impacts on the lives of those dirty smokers, or those drunken teens, or those boy racers, etc. And these are the same people who complain about too much govt interference in their own lives. We're a bunch of hypocritical, whining nimbys.

  2. I worry that the "costs on society" argument really lets people let rip with whatever prejudices they have about other groups. Don't like smokers? Find somebody who'll argue that the "social costs" are high (regardless if public health costs are low).

    Doug Sellman on Nat Radio currently...sigh...

  3. I'm not a great fan of the "social costs" argument. It seems very prone to subjective perception, and kind of hard to quantify with reasonable certainty, although no doubt you have given it your best shot.
    It especially annoys me in relation to cannabis policy. Folks out there don't seem to grasp that the majority of the so-called social costs are related to its legal status, and not to the use of cannabis in and of itself.
    When it comes to alcohol, the vast majority of drinkers are able to enjoy a few beers, wines, or whatever without incurring any real social negative impact at all. As always its a few bad apples, etc.
    Tobacco is a slightly different beast, but again not sure where to draw the line between social costs and actual physical health costs. That aside, am confused by 2 things re last nights exercise:
    1) why the need for urgency? Could this change not have been put into the budget like most other tax increases?
    2) seems less a desire to stop folks smoking, more a desire to grab a few extra tax $$$. If govt were serious about reducing smoking rates surely a sharp lump sum increase would be more shocking for smokers, rather than a gradual phasing in of excise increases? Seems a tad cynical to me.....

  4. @Lats. I think humans in general are hypocritical whining nimbys :) You see variations on this selfserving behaviour everywhere in NZ; we want the government to leave us alone except for when they should pay for stuff or regulate those slightly annoying people over there....

  5. @Lats apparently the urgency was to stop people stockpiling cigarettes prior to the increase....which sounds like revenue gathering to me

  6. @Lats: Urgency makes sense if the govt worries about folks stockpiling in advance of the tax increase. But I don't get why they then scheduled next year's increase.

  7. A factbox on the front page of the Dom yesterday said that the tax collected was still outweighed by the health costs. Where would they have got this information?

  8. I'd be interested in seeing it if there's a link. I suspect that they're measuring social costs, not health costs; in that case, they've added in the costs of all the smoke breaks smokers take (without counting that smokers bear those costs through lower wages - empirically proven, not just theory), the forgone wages from premature mortality (again, borne by smokers themselves), the money smokers spend on tobacco products (or that portion of it they reckon consumed addictively: about 88%), and so on.

  9. Stuff doesn't like putting fact-box type things online is my understanding.

    I do however, have this.

    "The Health Ministry estimates the health-related costs at $1.9 billion – much more than the $1.3b that will be raised once the new tax rates are fully in force."

  10. Something smells rotten about that number. Every other estimate I've seen has it well under $400m; suspicious that they're able to come up with a figure 4 times greater just in time for a tax hike.