• May 20, 2024

Tobacco taxes, robberies up

robbery photo
Photo by Arenamontanus

Police in New Zealand need to record the number of robberies in which tobacco is taken, according to a story by Nicholas Jones for the New Zealand Herald quoting the Act Party leader David Seymour.

The call by Seymour came after a weekend robbery at a dairy in Christchurch that has been robbed eight times in seven months. Cash and cigarettes were taken during the latest robbery.

In October, police said the black market for tobacco was fuelling dairy robberies.

Seymour told the Herald he had recently requested from police information on the number of tobacco-related burglaries.

But the request could not be met because crime statistics do not record whether tobacco products are taken in burglaries or robberies.

“Tobacco taxes have more than doubled in the past five years and there are, sometimes violent, robberies of the now $300 bricks of cigarettes happening every other day,” Seymour said.

“It is extraordinary that the police are not recording whether tobacco was a factor in a robbery.”

The Government last year passed legislation to hike the price of cigarettes to about $30 a pack by 2020, despite being condemned by New Zealand First and Act.

And the tax on tobacco will rise by 10 percent on January 1 each year for the next three years. Those rises are expected to bring in an extra $425 million in tax over that period.

Seymour said the government’s policy of taxing tobacco hard had made dairies and service stations into targets for theft, but it had not significantly reduced smoking rates.