Budget aims to extinguish smoking
AUSTRALIAN smokers are some of the hardest hit in the latest federal budget, with a consistent tax increase set to cut smoking rates.
There will be a series of 12.5% increases in excise for each of the next four years, that will mean by 2020 a pack of 25 cigarettes would cost about $40.
The number of smokers in Australia has dwindled in recent decades, from about a quarter in the early 1990s to closer to 13% now, partly due to previous tobacco excise increases, and public health measures like banning smoking in public areas and plain packaging laws.
Darling Downs and West Moreton Public Health Network board member Colin Owen said tax increases on tobacco products had been a proven method of reducing smoker rates.
"There's no doubt the price hikes and regulations have helped decrease smoking numbers recently," Dr Owen said.
"At the moment in Queensland, about 13.8% of the population is smoking while in the Southern Downs it's actually much lower at about
"Education and advertising are the second most effective method, second only to the price increases."
Dr Owen said smoking was one of the biggest strains on the public health system.
"Smoking is an enormous problem and this is the message we've go to get out there," he said.
"We have always thought smoking causes lung cancer and chronic lung disease but it also affect the arteries and leads to heart issues.
"Tax increases are going to make people think about it and disuade people, particularly young people, from smoking."
While some said the increase cost for smokers would encourage them to quit, others said the government should seek alternate revenue raising.
"I've been smoking for 50 years, since I was 14, they keep me calm in a mad house world," Maureen Wolff said.
"I wouldn't stop smoking with the price increase, and since when has smoking killed someone on the roads?
"I think road safety should have equal, if not more attention."
"I don't smoke, however the government should be taxing the approximate 600 companies that should be paying tax but don't," Patrick Heffernan said.
"I smoke for stress relief and the tax could help people who don't smoke in public areas," Mathew Winduss said.
"I won't stop smoking because of higher prices."
A Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service spokeswoman said the service supported smoke-free healthcar.
"We provide free nicotine replacement therapy to all hospital inpatients identified as smokers, as well as referrals to the Quitline, a confidential, free service for people who want to quit smoking," she said.
"All public health facilities including hospitals and aged care facilities are designated as smoke free, with no smoking permitted on the grounds."
More information on Quitline is available at qld.gov.au/health/stayinghealthy/atods/smoking/quitline/
By 2018, the Australia Government is planning to lower the number of smokers to 10% of the population and halve the Indigenous smoking rate.
The average number of persons who smoke daily (as at July 2014)
Darling Downs & West Moreton: 16%
Southern Downs: 8.8%