Tax to smoke out the quitters

07:00 AEST Tue Jan 1 2013
AAP
Smoking cessation service Quitline is hoping a 10 per cent increase in tobacco tax will see more people use its 0800 number in the New Year
Smoking cessation service Quitline is hoping a 10 per cent increase in tobacco tax will see more people use its 0800 number in the New Year (Thinkstock)

With the first of four New Year's tobacco tax hikes, Quitline says it is preparing for a wave of calls from people trying to kick the habit.

A 10 per cent tax increase has seen the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes rise from $14.40 to $16 and a packet of 25's from $18 to around $20.

In January last year, Quitline fielded 8222 calls from people wanting to quit and is expecting the price increase to push more towards giving up.

"People call Quitline for many reasons," chief executive Paula Snowden said.

"It's fear of their own health and many worry about cancer and the affects of smoking on their family. A real trigger to call is the price increase. Many smokers will have been thinking and planning to quit smoking as a New Year's resolution."

A pack a day over one year will cost around $5840, based on the new increases of $16 for a packet of 20.

"This is a lot of money that could be saved and could go towards the family, bills or special treats."

While the cost of tobacco rises on Tuesday, so will the prescription charges for subsidised eight-week supplies of nicotine replacement patches, gum and lozenges, from $3 to $5.

Despite that, it is still a very affordable options, Quitline says.

With tax rises, the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes is expected to rise to $20 by 2016.

In last year's budget, the government ruled out an option of one-off 30 per cent increase and subsequent 10 per cent increases.

Instead, the chosen option is estimated to raise about $528m and save up to 350 lives a year.

* Quitline's call centre, 0800 778 778, will be open from 8am on Tuesday.


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