Cigarette tax hike angers smokers

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has lost the votes of smokers across the Clarence Valley, according to the owner of a local tobacconist.

Co-owner of Cignall Grafton, Dianne Dawson, said incensed patrons at her Shoppingworld store had expressed anger at the Federal Government’s 25 per cent cigarette tax hike, which took effect at midnight last Thursday.

“People are screaming about it,” Mrs Dawson said.

“They’re not happy at all.

“The people are saying they won’t be voting for him (Rudd).”

Owner of Kenny’s Menswear & Tobacconist, Lyn Kenny, said her Grafton Mall store was alight with customers last Thursday prior to the tax increase.

“We really got hit up on Thursday,” Ms Kenny said.

“People were buying an extra carton.”

She said it was too early to confirm the tax’s impact on cigarette sales, but expected figures to become more evident in the coming weeks.

“It will just depend on how keen people are to quit or soldier on smoking,” she said.

Local pharmacist and owner of Ada and Flynn Pharmacy, Hugh Ada, said while he had not seen an increase in the sales of stop-smoking aids, he expected more people would go down that road as the reality of the tax sank in.

“I think it is a little too early to gauge people’s reactions. Once they get sick of paying through the nose for cigarettes I think people will start trying to break the habit,” he said.

“A week’s worth of Chemists’ Own patches costs $30, and we have seen some pretty positive results.

“The other thing that seems to have good results are the oral medications that are prescribed by general practitioners.”

The Federal Government’s cigarette legislation, touted as a world-first, also contains plans to require tobacco companies to use plain packaging – without brand labels and other marketing imagery – from July 1, 2012.

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