The New Zealand government released its annual budget plan Thursday, hitting hard smokers as well as industries that contribute to pollution, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Over the next four years, the government reportedly plans to hike tobacco taxes by 46 percent in a bid to eliminate smoking from the country by 2025. Once the taxes are in place, a pack of 20 cigarettes will cost about 30 New Zealand dollars ($20). According to the AP, this trumps most countries in terms of pricing.
The tax plan was pushed by the Maori Party. The party's co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell reportedly said it was the right thing to do, even if it would cost his constituents more money. It has been reported that indigenous Maori have a relatively high smoking rate.
“What I do know is that there are so many of our young women, because research tells us that, who are dying because of cancer,” Flavell said.
“I'm happy in my heart. If I can save more than one life, I would have done my job,” he added.
In an attempt to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, the budget plans to eliminate a subsidy for polluting businesses that was introduced to help them after the 2008 global financial crisis.
Following this, these businesses will need to pay more for releasing polluting gases.
Although the budget includes increases in spending for health, low-income housing and schools, the opposition says the government has failed to address a housing crisis in parts of the country.
“What was needed today was a clear plan to build thousands of affordable homes, lift wages and fix our creaking public services,” leader of the opposition Andrew Little reportedly said, adding: “Instead we have a government still focused on those at the top while most New Zealand families miss out.”