Excise taxes and duties on tobacco have been increased by 25 % since April 30, 2010. From 2013 to 2017, tobacco taxes increased 12.5 % each year. Four annual excise and customs duty increases were scheduled from 2013-17, 20, 21 followed by a further Four 12.5% annual increases to the year 2020. (Tobaccoinaustralia, 2019) A pack of regular cigarettes will cost up to $40, and duty-free cigarette allowance to be cut from 50 to 25.
It is certain that the increase in the cost of tobacco will reduce the consumption of tobacco and the number of smokers. Australian government reduces the purchasing power of smokers by imposing high taxes on tobacco products. Taxes need to rise periodically to adjust for inflation and consumer purchasing power. (WHO, 2019) So, the tobacco excise rate is indexed based on average weekly ordinary-time earnings (AWOTE). It will defend people from paying easier for tobacco due to the increase in wages. (NSW HEALTH, 2019)
The World Health Organization says that “raising tobacco prices through higher taxes is the most effective way to encourage tobacco users to quit and prevent children from starting smoking.” (WHO, 2019) The policy has made some success in Australia. Since the government raised the tax on tobacco by 25% in 2010, tobacco consumption has fallen by 11%. Since 2013, when the tax on tobacco was increased year by year, about 210,000 Australians have withdrawn from the tobacco market. (Acosh, 2019) Raising tobacco tax is a relatively mild measure, which is easy to be accepted by the public and smokers.
Australia has the highest tobacco prices in the world currently.
When I first came to Australia, I was very surprised for the price of cigarettes. Because a pack of cigarettes is very cheap in China. In China, the cheapest cigarettes cost only ¥5, nearly $1 Australian dollar. However, in Australia, the cheapest cigarettes cost nearly $20. The highest cigarette prices did help for Tobacco Control, but it still has some problems.
One of the problems is the decline of smoker rate has become slow. According to AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019), from 2013 to 2016, The percentage of daily smokers decreased very slightly, only from 12.8% to 12.2%. “This is a consistent trend for daily smokers aged 18 or older (AIHW 2017a). Between 2013 and 2016, there was a significant decrease in the daily amount of smoking among adolescents aged 12 to 17 and 18 to 19. (AIHW, 2017a) However, this policy did not work through smokers with many years of smoking experience. As the data showed in the chart, smoking rates among people aged 30 and over have barely improved or even recovered. Tobacco is highly addictive. It is very difficult for those who smoking for a long time to give up smoking due to the high price.
According to Hirono and Smith (2018), another issue is Equity concerns surrounding high tobacco taxes. The highly increase of tobacco tax may have a particularly high impact on vulnerable communities with lower incomes. But for those who do not quit smoking, it will has some negative impact on their economies (having less income available to spend on basic needs) and social (the increased sense of stigma associated with smoking).
Australia’s tobacco tax shows a successful and acceptable policy. But we can also find that people still need some stronger policies to change their dependence on tobacco from this research. The government should not only change the smokers, but also the whole society’s cognition and view of tobacco. How to get rid of the dependence and control of tobacco will be a difficult problem for every government. If I will design a tobacco control intervention or campaign for Central Java, as while as raising the tobacco tax, I will also strengthen the negative publicity of tobacco on social media to warn people about the harm of tobacco. The most important part is that government will organize free physical examination for smokers, so that they can feel the bad influence and effects of smoking on the body intuitively.
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Australian tobacco control legislation – ACOSH Website 2019, ACOSH Website. viewed 19 November 2019, <https://www.acosh.org/law-policy/australian-tobacco-control-legislation/#Tobacco_tax>.
Buchholz, K. 2019, Infographic: The Price of a Pack of Cigarettes around the World, Statista Infographics. viewed 19 November 2019, <https://www.statista.com/chart/15293/price-for-cigarettes-per-country/>.
Hirono KT, Smith KE. Australia’s $40 per pack cigarette tax plans: the need to consider equity, Tobacco Control 2018;27:229-233. viewed 18 November 2019, <https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/27/2/229>
National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) 2016—key findings , Tobacco smoking – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. viewed 19 November 2019, <https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/illicit-use-of-drugs/ndshs-2016-key-findings/contents/tobacco-smoking>.
Smoking and tobacco laws in Australia 2019, Australian Government Department of Health. viewed 18 November 2019, <https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/smoking-and-tobacco/about-smoking-and-tobacco/smoking-and-tobacco-laws-in-australia>.
Smoking rates stall as Australia loses the battle against smoking 2018, ATHRA. viewed 19 November 2019, <https://athra.org.au/blog/2018/12/12/smoking-rates-stall-as-australia-loses-the-battle-against-smoking/>.
WHO | Raise taxes on tobacco 2019, Who.int. viewed 19 November 2019, <https://www.who.int/tobacco/mpower/raise_taxes/en/>.
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