Is Winston Peters going to lower tobacco taxes?

Winston Peters was recently in Hawkes Bay and during one of his speeches he was asked about tobacco excise taxes and what NZ First was going to do about them.

His response was in the video above, which we have obtained.

No other media have reported what appears to be a promise to reduce tobacco excise taxes, or his link of a reduction in taxes as a law and order issue.  

The only media outlet that appears to have done something is HB Today, where they asked locals about the move:

Hawke’s Bay dairy owners were divided when asked whether lowering the excise tax on cigarettes would reduce aggravated robberies.

New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters announced at his Hawke’s Bay meeting that he wanted cigarettes to go back to being reasonably priced after the government consistently hiked the prices up.

“About 80 per cent of cigarette tax is excise duty because people in Wellington, health services and others have decided you’re the problem and they need to help you.”

However, Mr Peters said this resulted in local dairy owners being robbed and bashed for cigarettes as they were so overly priced.

“I was at a meeting in South Auckland and politicians were there but there response was for stores to stop selling them.”

“They were so out of touch, that’s like telling a butcher if he gets robbed to stop selling meat.”

Mr Peters said they would use their tax and spend on an education programme.

“We won’t do what the government is doing claiming it’s for educational purposes when not a fraction is being spent on making people feel safer and healthier about the use of that product.”

A Greenmeadows Four Square shop attendant supported a reduction in the cost of smokes and felt it would reduce the number of aggravated robberies.

The store was robbed in February this year by a man brandishing a hammer and 20 packets of cigarettes were taken.

The shop attendant said the prices kept going up year on year so these people were turning to crime, as they couldn’t fund their addiction any other way.

“This would be a good idea as I think the price is the prime reason for the high number of robberies. We wouldn’t stop selling cigarettes but it definitely is tough at the moment.”

Joll Road Dairy owner Jarnail Singh also supported Mr Peters desire to reduce the cost of smokes but said there needed to be a focus on education and employment too.

“I think it is a good idea as would definitely help as robberies are a real problem but people should also be educated and kept busy in jobs.”

Meanwhile, Windsor Park Store owner Jaskaran Singh was hesitant about supporting a reduction in the cost.

Mr Singh said it was the mindset of these people that needed to be changed, not the price.

“There needs to be a tightening in the law with harsher punishments so they won’t keep doing it again.”

The Maori party is, of course, outraged:

Maori Party co-leader and Ikaroa-Rawhiti candidate Marama Fox is a strong opposition to Mr Peters desire to reduce the price of cigarettes and said the price hike had been the number one contributor to people giving up.

“If you talk to police, health professionals, anybody, the increase in price has helped people give up.

“The real reason behind dairy robberies isn’t the price of cigarettes but instead it’s the opportunists who will do anything to fund their P addiction.”

When cigarettes are more expensive than P then you know we have our priorities wrong.

From the video it certainly looks like Winston Peters is going to reduce tobacco taxes.


-HB Today

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