Dairy owners 'fearful of their own safety' with tobacco tax hike

News 08/01/2019
Photo: File.

Dairy owners are buckling in for increased crime following the latest tax hike on cigarettes, according to a community action group.

Cigarettes now cost an extra 10 percent, which marks the third tobacco tax hike since 2010.

But Crime Prevention Group president Sunny Kaushal says pricier tobacco will further threaten the safety of shop owners around New Zealand.

The Crime Prevention Group was set up to represent thousands of shop owners throughout the country.

"[The tax hike] is making the shop owners so fearful for their own safety," Mr Kaushal told RadioLIVE.

Mr Kaushal says cigarettes have become one of the main reasons for aggravated robberies.

On Sunday, three women were filmed violently robbing a Taukau dairy. The dairy worker was punched multiple times as one of the women grabbed handfuls of cigarette cartons. The women fled the scene with cigarettes and other items.

Many shop owners fear that robberies will turn violent.

The Crime Prevention Group president says the Government's tax revenue hasn't been used for solutions to aid shop keepers, like investing in cigarette vending machines.

"The increasing tax, which is increasing year after year, hasn't delivered the effective solution that we are looking to make New Zealand smoke free by 2025."

However, the tax hike has been applauded by health officials for being another deterrent for those looking to quit as a New Year's resolution.

MidCentral DHB Health Promotion Adviser Julie Beckett told Maori television that the tobacco price increases will provide New Zealanders with "an opportunity" to begin their journey to quit the habit.

The last planned tax hike will go into effect at the start of 2020 to aid in the Ministry of Health's goal to make the country smoke free by 2025.