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Friday, 25 May 2012 00:00

New Zealand goes smoke-free
EDMONTON - New Zealand is set to become the first smoke-free country in the world, and will keep raising the sin tax on smokes to make that happen.

In its 2012 budget announced Thursday, the country’s finance minister, Bill English, said tobacco excise taxes would increase by 10% a year, over and above inflation, in each of the next four years. The increases will go into effect every Jan. 1.

A pack of 20 cigarettes, which costs around $15 NZD today, will climb to more than $20 NZD (about C$15) by 2016.

The associate health minister, Tariana Turia, said the government’s goal to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025 is “ambitious,” and it will also create programs to discourage smoking, the Newzealandherald said.

In April, the cabinet announced plans to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products that only shows health warnings and a quit-line number. And, as of July, shops will have to keep cigarettes out of sight.

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