Smokers could be taxed even more

| 17.05,09. 09:51 PM |

Smokers could be taxed even more


May 17, 2009 03:46pm

NOW smokers are really in trouble – the political parties are ganging up in favour of higher cigarette taxes.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has given cautious support to the Opposition's proposal to increase the tax by about a dollar a pack.

"If you could take Mr Turnbull seriously it might be a good idea," Ms Roxon told Sky News.

"I certainly agree that tax measures can have a health impact ... Of course, that can apply to tobacco. We've seen, in terms of history, Australia has done successfully on that."

The major parties appear to be working out a deal to lift "vice taxes" on both alcopops and cigarettes. The Government wants to increase the tax on alcopops; the Opposition wants to increase the tax on cigarettes.

Ms Roxon said if the Opposition passed the alcopops price rise, then she would look at its tobacco proposal.

"If (Mr Turnbull) votes for the alcopops tax and changes his mind, then let's sit down and have a discussion. But until he does that we can't take him seriously."

The Opposition's anti-tobacco plan would push up the price of a packet of cigarettes by 12.5 per cent, from $13.85 to $14.85 - or about three cents a cigarette.

The Greens say they'd support such a move.

Mr Turnbull appears to have had a change of heart on the alcopops tax and now says he'll take a fresh look, reiterating his softer stance.

"We'll definitely look at it again in the context of what they present us with," he told Channel Nine.

The Opposition's shifting stance on alcopops could remove a looming trigger for a double dissolution election. If the Opposition voted down the bill a second time, the Government could have used it to call a fresh election.

The Government plans to reintroduce the alcopops legislation next month.

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