Packet of 25 cigarettes to cost more than $40 by 2020 under Labor
The Labor Party has announced a plan which would see a packet of 25 cigarettes cost more than $40 by 2020.
- Labor unveils election plan to gradually increase tax on cigarettes
- Plan would see pack of 25 cigarettes cost more than $40 by 2020
- Shorten says plan shows "stark" difference from Government
The price rise would stem from gradual increases in the tax on cigarettes continuing beyond 2017, if Labor is elected.
The Opposition said the policy would generate savings of almost $50 billion over the medium term and almost double the rate at which people quit smoking.
"Money that we want to put towards budget consolidation but also towards very important health initiatives," Labor's health spokeswoman, Catherine King, said.
A packet of 25 cigarettes currently costs between $25 and $30.
Ms King said the increase would correspond with advice from the World Health Organisation.
"We have some 2.5 million Australians who continue to smoke and we lose about 15,000 people a year from smoking-related diseases," she said.
"The World Health Organisation will tell us, as our own national tobacco strategy does, that you do need to continue to ramp up the excise on cigarettes if you are going to continue to drive smoking rates down."
Ms King said the increase would bring Australia into line with the excise rates of about 33 other countries.
She acknowledged heavy smokers were some of the poorest people in society and promised more policies to help prevent and deal with smoking addiction.
"We want people to stop, we want more people to give up, we want more people who are in difficult circumstances to give up as well because we know that smoking kills people," she said.
"We'll be making some further announcements about what we might do to assist people, particularly those areas of the population who find it very difficult to give up smoking."
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the policy showed the "stark" difference between Labor and the Government.
"Labor wants to reduce the number of people who smoke; Malcolm Turnbull's Liberals want to increase the GST and the cost of everything, including fresh food, school fees and going to the doctor," he said.
Ms King said increasing taxes on fresh food was "regressive from a health point of view".
"When you look at it from a health point of view, it is a retrograde step and it would predominantly hit those on poorer incomes as well."
The Government has repeatedly said it has no plans to increase the GST, but is conducting an inquiry into the tax system, saying all suggestions will be considered.