Up in Smoke – How much do Northlanders spend on tobacco each year? | Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau

Up in Smoke – How much do Northlanders spend on tobacco each year?

This World Smokefree May Toki Rau Stop Smoking Services Northland want to raise awareness of just how much money Northlanders who smoke are actually spending on tobacco in one year. A conservative estimate is around $147,694,353.00.

Using Northland Census data, the Cost of Smoking Calculator[i], the cost of a packet 20 cigarettes ($27), and the average number of cigarettes smoked on per day (14.8)[ii] we were able to work out that 19.1% of Northlanders that smoke are spending almost $150 million dollars a year on tobacco.

When you look at it this way it’s astounding how much money in the region is going up in smoke. That is an average of around $7391 per smoker. Imagine what you could buy for yourself, your kids or your family.

The cost is not just financial. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable illness and early death. Long-term smokers will die an average of 10 to 15 years early because of smoking[iii]. You simply cannot put a price on that. 

To illustrate the amount of money that is going ‘Up in Smoke’ Toki Rau Stop Smoking Services Northland burned cheque at Te Matau ā Pohe Bridge in the carpark area on Port Road, Whangarei on Wednesday 16 May.

The New Zealand Government collects $1.7- $1.8 billion per year in tobacco tax excluding GST itself. 

In 2014, the economic cost of smoking had been estimated to be tangible costs $2.5 billion and intangible costs were estimated to be between $3.11 billion and $11.2 billion.[iv]

The overall expenditure on tobacco control interventions like stop smoking services, cessation medicines, media campaigns etc. is roughly $57 million - $61.7 million.[v]

“While the government may receive a significant amount of tax from tobacco sales, the cost of tobacco related illness and lost productivity far outweighs the income from the tax. Only a small amount of the tobacco tax revenue is spent trying to get smokers to stop smoking or to reduce the number of young people starting to smoke,” says Bridget Rowse Smokefree Advisor Northland District Health Board.

Tobacco tax increases are the most effective and inexpensive way of reducing tobacco smoking prevalence, consumption, and initiation.[vi] During New Zealand’s recent period of regular tax increases, smoking prevalence has further declined along with tobacco sales.[vii] Further increases in tobacco tax are also very likely to produce further health gain, reduce health inequalities and generate cost-savings for the New Zealand health system.[viii] 

This World Smokefree Day, Toki Rau Stop Smoking Services Northland encourage everyone to either celebrate being smokefree or encourage those who are not smokefree to embrace the smokefree lifestyle and give quitting a go.

The good news is that quitting is possible and people want to get off the smokes. Getting help to stop smoking increases your chances of quitting for good. Many people attempt to stop smoking but relapse within days or weeks. Help is at hand and it’s never been easier to get free support to stop smoking in Northland

Toki Rau Stop Smoking Services Northland provides a FREE Northland wide stop smoking service offering face-to-face support which can be provided in an individual, whanau/family or group setting, with eight sites across Tai Tokerau. This includes FREE nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) gum, lozenges and patches to support you on your smokefree journey. 

[i]   Using the HPA Cost of Smoking Calculator https://www.smokefree.org.nz/smoking-its-effects/cost-of-smoking/cost-of-smoking-calculator(external link), $27 cost per packet 20 cigarettes, 14.8 cigarettes smoked on average per day (NZ Health & Lifestyles Survey 2014, HPA) multiplied by No. of regular smokers in Northland 19,983 (2013 Census NZ).

[iii]    Vineis, P., Alavanja, M., Buffler, P., Fontham, E., Franceschi, S., Gao, Y.T., et al. (2004). Tobacco and cancer: Recent epidemiological evidence. Journal of National Cancer Institute, 96: 99-106.; Jha, P., Ramasundarahettige, C., Landsman, V., Rostron, B., Thun, M., Anderson, R. N., et al. (2013). 21st century hazards of smoking and benefits of cessation in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine, 368, 341-350.

[iv]   https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/pages/appendix-8-april-background-info-tobacco-control-programme.pdf

[v]   Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Progress Report 2017 Published in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, August 2017 (page 11). [downloaded https://aspire2025.org.nz/2017/08/02/news-report-sets-out-action-plan-for-smokefree-aotearoa-2025/(external link) ]

[vi]     Hiscock R, Branston JR, McNeill A, Hitchman SC, Partos TR, Gilmore AB. Tobacco industry strategies undermine government tax policy: evidence from commercial data. Tob Control2017. [downloaded 08.05.18 https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2018/04/16/a-public-health-perspective-on-taxing-harmful-products/]

[vii]       Wilson N, van der Deen F, Edwards R, Thomson G, Waa A, Blakely T. Patterns of Declining Smoking in NZ – But More Action Needed by the New Government. Public Health Expert (Blog). 20 November 2017. https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2017/11/20/patterns-of-declining-smoking-in-nz-but-more-action-needed-by-the-new-government/(external link).[downloaded 08.05.18 https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2018/04/16/a-public-health-perspective-on-taxing-harmful-products/]

[viii]        Health Promotion Agency. Tobacco Control Data Repository: Four weekly equivalent sales volume (January 2011 to January 2016). http://www.tcdata.org.nz/Sales%20data/Sales_06.aspx(external link). [downloaded 08.05.18 https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2018/04/16/a-public-health-perspective-on-taxing-harmful-products/]


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