Indigenous and non-indigenous experiences and views of tobacco tax increases: findings from the ITC New Zealand Survey
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University of Otago, Public Health, New Zealand
University of Otago, Dean's Department, New Zealand
University of Waterloo, Psychology, Canada
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Canada
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A684
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Tobacco taxes are effective for reducing smoking prevalence and in New Zealand (NZ) there have been annual 10% tax increases since 2010. There is ongoing debate in NZ about the potential unequal impact and regressive nature of these taxes for Māori (indigenous peoples of NZ). This study explored Māori and non-Māori experiences of tobacco tax increases and their support for tobacco taxation policies.

Data were drawn from the first wave (Aug 2016-April 2017) of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) NZ Survey. The sample comprised 1,023 smokers and 138 ex-smokers, and within the overall sample 358 who identified as Māori and 803 who identified as non-Māori.

Around a third of participants reported recent tax increases had led them to think about quitting. Slightly more non-Māori (30%) reported the increases had caused them to reduce tobacco consumption compared to Māori (24%). Despite most participants reporting tobacco tax was too high, almost a third across all ethnic groups supported ongoing tax increases. This support increased to two thirds if the tax was tied to tobacco control interventions. Almost a third of all participants supported large annual tax increases of 20% to help achieve NZ's goal of being smokefree by 2025. Support was particularly strong (90%) for using revenue from tobacco tax to provide programmes supporting smoking cessation and discouraging smoking uptake.

While tobacco taxes can reduce smoking, they may have slightly less effect among Māori. This may mean Māori bear a disproportionate amount of burden from tobacco tax. Despite this, there is good support among Māori and non-Māori for ongoing tax increases and use of tobacco tax revenue to support tobacco control interventions. There is good support among smokers for tobacco tax to be used as a strategy to help achieve NZ's tobacco endgame goal.

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