The world is getting tougher on tobacco. This week, New Zealand’s government announced plans to make it illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone born after 2008. In Switzerland, where cigarettes are around 40% of the price in New Zealand, an anti-smoking association has called for prices to be hiked from CHF 8 to CHF 14 a packet, reported 20 Minutes.
According to the Swiss Association for Tobacco Control (AT), hiking the price of cigarettes will cut the number of smokers. Their plan would still leave cigarettes cheap compared to many nations. The lowest cost packet would rise from CHF 5.50 to CHF 10.20, a very low price when considering salaries in Switzerland, pointed out Wolfgang Kweitel from AT. CHF 10.20 would be around half the average price in New Zealand, a nation with lower salaries.
80% of those who smoke become addicted before they reach adulthood. Because young people are more price sensitive than much of the rest of the population, more expensive cigarettes are likely to have a significant impact on the number of new smokers, argues AT.
Between 2003 and 2013, the Federal Council progressively raised the tax on tobacco. However, since 2011 the rate of smoking among those over 15 has remained stuck at 27%. In New Zealand the rate is 13% of adults, with an aim to reduce this to 5% by 2025.
AT is calling on Switzerland’s federal government to raise tobacco taxes to a level where an average packet of cigarettes costs CHF 14 rather than the current level of CHF 8.
AT’s proposition has garnered the support of the Pulmonary Association, Cancer Association, Addiction Suisse and FMH, a doctors’ association.
Another head wind for anti-smoking campaigners is tobacco availability. These products are widely available in Switzerland. To tackle this, New Zealand plans to reduce the number of shops authorised to sell cigarettes from 8,000 to under 500, a cut of nearly 94%.