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Tobacco excise taxes: a health and social justice measure?
  1. Janet Hoek,
  2. Richard Edwards,
  3. George W Thomson,
  4. Andrew Waa,
  5. Nick Wilson
  1. Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Janet Hoek, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand; janet.hoek{at}

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As Verguet et al note,1 taxing tobacco products has been consistently shown to reduce smoking prevalence by stimulating cessation, deterring uptake and reducing consumption among people who continue to smoke.2–6 Health benefits attributable to tobacco excise tax increases include increased life expectancy and reduced hospitalisations.7 8 Tobacco excise taxes can potentially bring large health benefits at a population level,9 particularly for young people and people with fewer financial resources.3 10 Yet tobacco taxation in most countries is low; in 2014 experts estimated that 200 million deaths could be averted by 2025 if the price of cigarettes was doubled globally, which ‘in many low and middle-income countries’ could be achieved by tripling the tax on tobacco.11

This evidence has led many countries, including the UK, Ireland, France and Canada, to implement regular tobacco excise tax increases. Australia and New Zealand have taken this policy further than other countries; sustained increases in tobacco excise taxes mean a pack of 20 cigarettes now costs around $35 (approximately USD20) in New Zealand and will soon reach $40 per pack (around USD25) in Australia.

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  • Contributors JH led development of the commentary; all authors commented on drafts. All authors have approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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