The number of smokers in Australia has dwindled over recent decades. A comprehensive suite of measures have been gradually rolled out to fight Big Tobacco from all sides, including increased tax excise, the introduction of plain packaging and expanded health warnings on all retail packaging,banning smoking in public places, banning tobacco marketing, promotion and sponsorship (including online in Australia), and extended subsidisation of nicontine-replacement therapies and other smoking cessation supports.

In the May budget, the Australian Government announced it would continue to increase the tax on tobacco products by 12.5% per year over a continued four year perid, from 2017-2020. The first is due on 1 September 2017.

The World Health Organization (2016) recommends that for a packet of cigaretttes, tax excise should account for 70% of the total price. These latest tax hikes will take the excise percentage to almost 69%, with Australian smokers paying around $40 for a pack of 25 sticks(around Rp. 390.000) – a stark contrast from here where you can pay Rp. 1.000 (AU$0.10) for a single stick.

The price of cigarettes is not the only measure the Australian Government plans to change. From 1 July 2017, the duty free allowance for tobacco productswill be reduced from 50 cigarettes to 25(or the equivalent of 25 grams of cigar or other tobacco products). Furthermore regulatory and enforcement response to illicit tobacco will be strengthened with an expansion of the Border Protections’s Tobacco Strike Team, which will increase in the range of enforcement options available for illicit tobacco offences (Australian Government, 2016).

Tobacco continues to be one of the leading causes of premature death and preventable disease in Australia, killing an estimated 15,000 per year. These proposed changes are all aiming to continue the reduction of exposure to the harmful effects of tobacco products and the reduction of the heavy burden, some $AU31.5 billion, that tobacco related illnesses place on the Australian health care and economy each year.

For more information, see:

Auatralian Government, Budget 2016-17, 2016, Budget Paper No. 2, Part 1: Revenue Measures. Immigration and Border Protection [ONLINE], available at http://www.budget.gov.au/2016-17/content/bp2/html/bp2_revenue-08.htm (accessed 11 May 2016).

Australian Government Department of Health, 2016, Tobacco Excise, [ONLINE], available at  http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mc15-021468-tobacco-excise (accessed 11 May 2016).

World Health Organization, 2016, Tobacco Free Initiative: Taxation, available at http://www.who.int/tobacco/economics/taxation/en/index1.html (accessed 12 May 2016).