Tobacco tax is racist and anti-working class

Tobacco is a legal product that is heavily addictive.
Working people, especially Maori and Pacifica, are leading lives that are more likely to lead to tobacco use in the search for relief from the daily stress to survive and live our lives.
Tobacco is very unhealthy and leads to premature death for two out of three users. But the government allows its legal sale everywhere. The dealers in death, the tobacco companies, are permitted to make billions from their products.
The government also collects around $1.8 billion a year from its taxes from 600,000 addicts.
So we have a legal product, that the pro-tax advocates insist must pay a fine of around $60 a week or $3000 a year for their “filthy” habit. I can see the middle-class do-gooders sneer as they support higher and higher taxes on the poor and brown and obviously stupid people who continue to smoke.
It doesn’t matter that they smoke because the giant tobacco companies have been allowed to peddle their death-dealing drugs with complete freedom forever.
Of course, high taxes reduce consumption to a degree. As a former user, it was one of the reasons I gave up. But so what.
They have increasingly become less and less effective. Their continuing rise for less and less impact is just vindictiveness. At the bottom of the pile of victims are the one-third of Maori women who continue to smoke at whatever price.
And the middle-class anti-smoking warriors extend their hostility to vaping and other ways of accessing the drug of choice without the worst of the side-effects associated with smoking.
We are soon going to have a more sensible approach to the use of illegal drugs that deems their drug use a health matter but not a criminal matter. That is a good thing.
But it means that the user of illegal drugs will be able to access their drug tax-free while the tobacco addict will not.
Does anyone else see that that is absurd?
My suggestion is that all tobacco addicts be able to register as an addict and get access to a weekly supply of loose leaf tobacco to smoke at a modest price. This would only be able to be bought at a limited n number of R18 dispensaries.
We should ban all other tobacco products other than vaping.
The addict could get their fix at little cost and therefore there would not be able to develop an illegal market for the tobacco companies.
The drug user, that is the tobacco addict, could be treated with dignity and respect and not as a cash cow for the government.


  1. Hey you forgot to say it’s “sexist” too Mike, as Maori women are now the smokiest demographic.

    What it is, as you more cogently point out later, is an unholy alliance of middle-class righteousness and Friedmanite economics.

    And yes, the hostility to vaping is incomprehensible – even if it’s not entirely risk-free (what is?) it’s got to be less damaging than sucking in hourly doses of lung-destroying carcinogens.

  2. You have a point Mike.
    Smoking tobacco was originally more of an upper class activity when introduced into “western” civiliztion because it was expensive and way beyond the means of the poor masses.
    But the tobacco companies realized that to make the big bucks they had to remarket their product into a working class product simply because there were many more workers than upper class hence greater potential profit.
    The problems you discuss are a testament to just how successful the tobacco companies were at doing this.
    It is disingenious, to say the least, for any government to declare it wants to prohibit smoking while at the same time push up taxes on tobacco.
    I do feel that the argument about higher prices (via taxation) being successful in reducing smoking has come about as far as it can and further increases just creates a new kind of pay dirt – brown gold.
    Before the last election I personally spoke to Ian Lees-Galloway and Stuart Nash about my concerns at a public meeting and was assured that the whole question about smoking and taxation would be thoroughly investigated to see if there was a better solution.
    Haven’t seen any progress so far.

  3. There are of course health costs, associated with alcohol and tobacco, for which the government picks up the tab.

  4. I agree with you @ MT. And well done for bringing out such a self righteous hand wringers opportunity for squawking indignantly as a topic for discussion.
    I also used to smoke cigarettes. And I loved it. Every now and then, and usually while drunk, I think hmmmmm…. A nice wee fag to take the edge off being a dreary human. I had an old Dodge V8 and I’d cruise around taking photographs while smoking fags and drinking coffee brewed by the roadside. As I write that, I’m reminded of something Oscar Wilde said, and I paraphrase: ” To LIVE ! That’s the answer. Most merely exist, that is all. “
    One can be as pious and reserved as one likes. One can live a careful and healthy life of whole foods and vitamins and look on in awe as one’s poos start to look like something a rabbit might pop out. Organic shit-nuggets of sanctimonious high smuggery. Now look? There we are. Just like the rest of us lot. Either a freshly dug plot or smoke coming out a chimney and no. The irony isn’t lost on me. Either way, baby.
    And yes. The scum who understand the addictions also know how to financially capitalise on that addiction. They also know that, that most vile anxiety, the one born of poverty, is certainly going to guarantee a nice profit from that misery. So? Ratchet up the cost of living and out goes the fags.
    On a lighter note.
    So? You want to quit fags? Here’s what someone I knew did to achieve that.
    Grow some pot. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, I know Mr/Mrs/Ms Policeperson. Be still, your beating little heart. Have another beer and put your feet up will ya?
    Take the larger lower leaves from the noble plant ( Male plants are best ) and sun dry. But not too dry, then roll them up tight and shave to thin slices. Roll that, as you would tobacco in papers and light up. You will notice several interesting things.
    Thing one is you won’t get high because there’s almost no THC in those big shade leaves.
    Thing two is you will notice that legendary and subtle tobacco-like hit.
    Thing three. Because pot’s not physically addictive. Certainly not like tobacco. I.e. no nicotine, in a few days you’ll go fuck this for a joke and behold! You’re no longer addicted to tobacco.
    Med’ Dr’s can’t pass that one to their smoker patients because Pot’s illegal. Just like CBD oil is superb for chronic pain and anxiety. Just like I was told by a Dr when my mum was dying of cancer. She couldn’t have heroine because it’s highly addictive. Instead? She was pumped full of morphine until she died of respiratory failure.
    Ever watched a person suffocate in their own juices?
    What we have to get our heads around is the brutal fact that AO/NZ is a miserable little shit hole of a beautiful country governed by feeble minded cowards who’s only endearing qualities are greed and ignorance and we fucking need to get out more. Lets all go to Portugal! ?
    Ever watched a series called ‘The Wire’? It’s about ten years old now and I’d highly recommend it. Specifically season three.
    Bit of a slog so be prepared.

    • Countryboy, as a smoker -my doctor has me recorded as an ex-smoker, I can add to this.

      I’m expert on quitting too. About three years ago the Health Dept flogged off the Quitline to a private PHO group. The Quitline used to be very good, mainly ex-smokers; now they’re not very good at all.

      A local told me that after accessing Quitline patches she got an email from her PHO asking was she still smoking tobacco, and giving her a choice of two answers, “yes” or “no.” She ignored it. The next day she received an identical email. Dunno what happened after that.

      Substitutes. I was given two mullein cigarettes made by a herbalist, and they did the job very well.Mullein grows wild around Otago, Nelson, and doubtless other areas, but I am not going to be able to get any seeds until spring.It was used extensively by early settlers for various purposes.

      I am now growing tobacco, but I gather it is quite hard to grow. Also trying mixes of suggested substitutes, and have dried out masses of mint and lemon balm, and the cnr dairy says rosemary is good too. I ordered a herb cruncher online which never arrived, and as the little woody herb stalks perforate ordinary rolling paper, I’ve ordered a corn cob pipe.

      Govt revenue from tobacco taxes is enormous – and if they are actually
      giving any thought at all to the people who the price of cigarettes impacts most, then they would be acting totally out of character. They don’t care.

      I use virtually no heating in winter – can’t have everything.That’s not a complaint either, many NZ’ers can no longer afford to heat their homes, and that is one of the reasons our precious little children are now succumbing to debilitating sicknesses once thought consigned to history.

      The surgeon who pontificated pompously to me about being a smoker, kicked the bucket last year.

    • ” I’m reminded of something Oscar Wilde said, and I paraphrase: ” To LIVE ! That’s the answer. Most merely exist, that is all. “”

      Well, I’m reminded of the line: “the Dude abides, man” and that should give us all comfort.

  5. Oh please, why do the woke left feel the need to cry racism every time a law hits a particular (non white) group harder?
    I don’t support the insanely high level of tax because it is a punitive measure against people addicted to a legal substance.
    However I reckon you would cry racism if the Government decided to slash it too.
    Grow up.

    • +1 Jays

      Also the problem with overuse and trivial use of the term ‘racist’ is that is loses it’s power.

      If someone is racist if they micro agrees on Neighbourly, the government is racist for taxing cigarettes.

      So when we actually get a hate crime and people blow away another/s due to race, it’s hard to work out what to do when apparently the entire country and most of the people are racist and the continuum goes from zero to maximum, but the wokies are most happy at the trivial end so they can daily post abuse against their neighbours and communities, who probably were out baking cookies and raising money for the victims of the terror attack?

  6. Much the same thing where the middle class put in place minimum pricing for alcohol – an impost on the poorer imbibers, buit would have no impacton the price of their own alcohol preferences.

    The idea being to use cost to control levels of drinking by the poor, without any impact on themselves. Then if the poor complain they cannot pay their bills they are told to stop smoking and drinking, as if their poverty was a moral/behavioural problem.

            • O W – If the dynamics were as simple as mere ideas then there would be fewer smokers than there are.

              Part of growing up is acquiring knowledge – willingly or not- and with this knowledge, can come the understanding – willingly or not – of the dynamics of addiction, and until that comes, it might be a good idea idea idea if you do not start smoking. Get a hobby or go jogging or something.

              • Part of growing up is recognising that actions speak louder than words.

                So some choose to act like taxing tobacco is racist and classist. Some, when given the answer choose righteous indignation.

                As for ‘get a hobby or go jogging or something’ – Grow up.

                • I did grow up, OW.

                  “So some choose to act like taxing tobacco is racist and classist.”

                  Agree with you here, Off.

                  It is easy revenue for govts, and it’s also easy to turn things into race issues, and that’s happening too often.

  7. And of course there is the dramatic rise in attacks on Dairies to get guess what- Cigarettes. From cigarette addicts. Who then get incarcerated when they get caught. Add them to the Dairy owners who are injured. And all for What!!!

  8. Middle class city dwelling bed wetters want everyone’s lives to be as miserable and devoid of pleasure as theirs.
    Classic example Thomas Morgan who is offended by the word gun, demanding it removed from his sight:
    How come at the moment we get the worst of a nanny state and police state?
    It’s the woke pc behaviour you get when your democracy is captured by bureaucrats.

    • Keepcalmcarry on, did you have to show that link ? I looked at it.

      Worked with this Thomas Morgan about 15 years ago.I’d regard him as reasonably harmless and not Albert Einstein.

      Thomas had done a degree in Pol Sc = politician, and every now and then he stands as an independent for election to the Wellington City Council but he never makes it.

      This could be his new platform… but if Thomas just stopped looking at number plates, then they wouldn’t upset him.

      Many number plates feature phallic symbols too, so maybe best do away with number plates altogether – or do away with vehicles which carry them, get everyone on to bikes, horses and go carts.I can’t suggest buses, because the Wellington City Council which hates its ratepayers has hidden nearly all the buses.

      Maybe Thomas could find them.

  9. “all tobacco addicts be able to register as an addict and get access to a weekly supply of loose leaf tobacco to smoke at a modest price.”

    Wouldn’t it be equally ‘racist’ to allow working class people in poverty to legally be allowed to self harm via smoking and everyone around them via 2nd hand smoke, one of the leading causes of death in the 20th century (and probably 21c in the third world that are taking up smoking)?

    Perhaps the taxes of harmful products should be higher to the corporations producing and profiting from it, and they be responsible under law for the treatment of smoking related deaths instead?

    Likewise in the US, the gun lobby have been able to legally get out of being responsible for being sued for all the gun deaths and mass murders in a country that sues for the smallest thing. Blowing people away with automatic weapons and selling and promoting them to kids though is fine, apparently under law!

    Something wrong with how large harmful product companies seem to have a free pass on the law and different laws for them, where they seem not accountable for their harmful products and the effects of those harmful products on society, unlike other’s who use them?

  10. “So we have a legal product, that the pro-tax advocates insist must pay a fine of around $60 a week or $3000 a year for their “filthy” habit.”

    So what, we’re quoting the libertarian, right wing view?

    Did i trip into Kiwiblog by chance

    The stuff kills workers Mike. Never forget that

    Make it cheaper and easier for your members to get and eventually you’ll have bugger all left

    Its an interesting way to eliminate the union movement

    But do please carry on with you neoliberal argument

  11. BTW, taxing works. After decades of smoking my parents finally quit when the costs just got too great for them to afford. And they did not find smoking that pleasurable, hacking their lungs out, for those that like to glamourise the practice.

  12. Wow, what an odd post Mike. Let me get this right – the long history in NZ of fighting the predatory behaviour of blatantly evil cigarette companies in selling a product designed to addict and kill, is essentially racist.

    What utter bullshit.

    Just because you are/were addicted to fags and the state is trying everything short of banning them, doesn’t mean it’s anti working class.

    You’re ‘enjoyment’ is just the feeling of an addicts hit created by some of the worst corporate scum in the world who have engineered fags to be as addictive as possible! Sooo enjoyable to participate like a lab rat in making these wankers richer.

    More than almost anything else, this policy has saved the lives of working class people. Statistics show that over the average life expectancy of citizens, smoking results in around 50% premature death rate, plus long periods of extreme hardship from poor health. Anything that cuts that rate is pro working class as it saves their lives – and NZ has been very successful in reducing smoking rates in all classes, and with it death rates.

  13. Some tax is fair for sure speaking as a smoker myself. I think a point that’s missed is all of those tax dollars stolen from smokers could’ve been money spent in the local economies of said smokers. That is all.

  14. The incremental tax increases are just cruel, most addicts find another thing to give up to pay the extra couple of dollars to maintain the habit. Just put a packet up to $100 and be done with it rather than t keep squeezing a little extra tax revenue without shocking people into quiting. Better still any Govt that’s brave enough to just ban them fullstop in their first year will take a hit in the polls but be loved 3years later by all the ex smokers.

    • I’m sorry kevy but that is idealistic claptrap.
      Anyone with a pragmatic viewpoint knows that prohibition doesn’t work.
      Prostitution didn’t suddenly appear after legalized and Marijuana is widely used despite being illegal.
      Make it illegal and the consequences are worse. Already the high tax on cigarettes is driving increased crime through robberies and smuggling.
      I have never smoked and can’t stand the habit, but punitive measures of such magnitude against people addicted to a legal product is unconscionable IMO and to make it illegal is even more so.

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