This Government is owned by Big Tobacco (and the Atlas Network)


Revealed: Tobacco tax freeze was Associate Health Minister Casey Costello’s idea

Notes that New Zealand First Minister Casey Costello sent to health officials on reforming smoke free laws make it clear that a proposed freeze on excise tax for tobacco came from her office.

The notes, which have been obtained by RNZ, also include proposals for more tax breaks for the tobacco industry, including no excise tax on tobacco products that are heated rather than burned.

Costello has attempted to distance herself from the notes, however, saying they “were not my proposals or notes”. But her office won’t say who wrote them, only that it was “existing material” she sent.

The Associate Health Minister has been under fire in Parliament after telling RNZ she had not sought advice on freezing the excise on cigarettes for three years, despite a Health Ministry document saying she had.

“I’ve had no discussions on that at all. It’s not even something I specifically sought advice on,” Costello said to RNZ when it first broke the story. “I haven’t looked at a freeze on the excise at all.”

Her explanation about the conflict between her statements to RNZ and the content of the Health Ministry documents has been that she was merely requesting a range of advice on issues in her portfolio.

“I was asked a specific question about whether I had sought specific advice on the excise tax issue,” Costello said this week.

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“I hadn’t sought specific advice, it was just one of the components in a broad range of things and in that specific area it was just asking about the implications if we looked at it.”

But the notes Costello sent to the Health Ministry in mid-December 2023, as she sought to develop her tobacco and vaping plan, suggest that freezing the excise on smoked tobacco originated with her.

Under a heading, ‘Smoking’, the document states: “Freeze the excise rates on smoked tobacco for three years starting 31 December 2023.”

On the same page of the document are proposals for additional tax breaks for cigarettes, this time for products that contain lower levels of nicotine.

“Zero rate less addictive smoked tobacco for excise if it contains 0.8mg/gram of nicotine,” it says in the material that Costello provided to health officials.

This spin line that Tobacco is the same as caffeine is total bullshit!

Smoking kills 67% of users, coffee doesn’t and no product that addictive should be allowed to have that hold over the market!

We want people off ciggies and onto vapes without addicting a new generation of vapers while respecting individuals right to choose after 18.

We need to deal with our vices in ways that are different to other industries because of the social harm making them illegal would cause. That’s why we need a Vice Tax on business activity whose social damage doesn’t get covered by the taxation they pay!

Gambling, Tobacco & Booze, all of them need the heavy jack boot of the State on their throats at all time!

The Vice tax would be special super tax on top of the total profits made on products that are a blight upon society.

Why should the Gambling Booze Tobacco Barons peddle their harmful products with the barest of responsibility?

Rather than constantly making it a tax the consumer pays, hit the booze barons, Tobacco Pimps and Gambling dealers with a ring-fenced super tax on their profits margins.

To allow 8000 to die because National want tax cuts for their rich mates is outrageous.

Thankfully the Tobacco industry have the best agents and supporters for their cause, Costello came from the Taxpayers’ Union and they have links to Atlas, which is a point made by Public Health Communication Centre this week…

Tobacco Company Political connections Evidence of industry links
British American Tobacco Casey Costello (NZ First Party) formerly Chair and member of Tax Payers’ Union Board. Now Minister with responsibility for the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990; vaping; smokeless tobacco; oral nicotine.1 Guardian investigation reported TPU received funding from British American Tobacco

TPU has links with the Atlas Network, which has received tobacco industry funding.


In 2023, a TPU staff member received an Atlas Network competition prize. TPU was described as an Atlas Network partner.

…it also notes that Nicola Willis is a former Nazgul at the NZ Initiative…

British American TobaccoImperial Brands Australasia Nicola Willis, Deputy leader National Party, formerly Board Director New Zealand Initiative NZI list tobacco companies British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands Australasia as members.


…so Tobacco interests are fostered and loved by this Government because this Government is being influenced by the Atlas Network!

Claiming that no one has had any donations from the Tobacco Industry is ludicrous when it’s been done openly in the first place!

Here’s Big Tobacco watering down any regulation of tobacco while stoking Dairy crime fear while ignoring that it’s their addictive product fuelling that Dairy crime…

The ‘corner dairy campaign’ quietly backed by big tobacco

A campaign to “save our stores” from a smokefree initiative looks like a grassroots effort. The truth is more complicated.

Since 1 August, ads have started showing up on Facebook urging people to support a petition to “save our stores”.

The ads, which lead to a website called Save Our Stores, ask users to sign a petition to repeal the Smokefree 2025 Act. The act includes a measure to reduce the number of stores selling full strength tobacco from 6000 nationwide to 600 by July 2024.

At first glance, the campaign appears to be an initiative from dairy owners. Under a headline of “who we are” on the website’s “about us” page, a dairy owner said to be from Lower Hutt is featured: “My name is Bhavesh. I’m a dairy owner in Lower Hutt. I’ve been serving customers for 17 years.”

However, smaller type at the bottom of the page says the website is “proudly supported” by tobacco companies BAT (British American Tobacco) New Zealand and Imperial Brands. The website’s privacy policy says the website is “provided” by the tobacco companies.

The website encourages dairy owners to get involved by printing out posters to display in their stores. These include messages in bold type warning: “This dairy is under threat of closure” with a QR code which leads to the website.


The Tobacco Industry has already made its ‘donation’ to this Government, so pretending the Rights hands are clean over Tobacco donations is a fucking joke!

If only this Government loved the environment and lowering poverty as much as they love the Tobacco Industry.

This is addictive behaviour by the right and clearly they need a prescription vape intervention.

This ugly subservience to the Tobacco Industry and far right international think tanks has to be challenged.


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  1. I clearly agree with this: government policies have materialist implications in terms of health. However, we have to look at how ready the international conjuncture is for these inferences. Because giant companies do business in the international arena.

  2. If people just stopped smoking there would be no problem….Nobody forces a fag down someone’s throat…It’s not the government’s problem if someone decides to start smoking…personal responsibility needs to be applied here….cough cough….

  3. if she is or isn’t in big tobaccos pocket isn’t the issue, is it a reasonable policy? increases are an increasingly onerous regressive tax on a largely poorer section of society which funds ‘pet projects’ imagine if sav blanc or coffee (both do real damage) can you imagine the middle class bitchin fest?
    as far as nicotine goes it’s not dangerous, if you disagree provide citations for SCIENTIFIC studies don’t just ‘lip off’ it has been long aknowledged that the damage in ciggies comes from the addatives not the nic
    the only problems with vapes are slack arsed kiwis just throwing them on the deck…easy solution ban disposable vapes not sanction all vapes…why smokefree wants to consign many nzers to early death because of their lack of science and knee jerk reaction to vapes is wellm beyond me.

    • …”as far as nicotine goes it’s not dangerous, if you disagree provide citations for SCIENTIFIC studies don’t just ‘lip off’ it has been long aknowledged that the damage in ciggies comes from the addatives not the nic”

      That’s a pretty vacuous point to make in this context, similar in style to climate denier talking points: “but CO2 is plant food ” or “CO2 levels go up and down” “it’s been warmer in the past”.

      I’m surprised at the ill-considered content of the whole comment, Gagarin.

  4. The best way, so I was told, to stop people from becoming smokers is to shut up about it. No advertising, no debate either for or against.
    I used to smoke a long time ago and the way I quit was to chop then roll up cannabis leaf and smoke that. The large, lower leaves have bugger all cannibanoids so I didn’t get stoned at all but I did get that pointless fag hit that I soon got bored with and so once addictive nicotine was out of my body I was able to properly quit altogether. I’m now an old crack whore doing blow jobs for hot pies and cheap beer but anything’s better than smoking tobacco.
    The price? Fuck off. That’s an evil, greedy scam. Great though if you’ve chosen a career in ram-raiding.
    Why do we pay neo-liberal politicians for measured, educated and intelligent solutions to such things again? They’ll be off to try and convince Portugal to re criminalize all drugs because their approach was far too sensible. Can’t have that though aye, you dodgy fucking morons.


    christian prudence
    04:50 (0 minutes ago)
    to Anil, Ashley, ashleyprudence, Chris, geoffprudence, information, letters, listener, mike

    Hi kumar I finally know what I want to do in the next ten years until I retire..I want to take the university (UOA) to court.I want to sue them for $100,000 per year since I graduated in 1999.$2.5 million.That is what a professor would have earnt in that time.Forget doing a masters or doctorate I don’t have time with a recent health scare I am currently attending too with my g.p.


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