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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: To identify the driving forces and constraints for tobacco tax policy in New Zealand during 1984-2005.
Methods: An intrinsic case study, using data from 21 in-depth interviews, official documents, media statements, and the parliamentary record.
Results: A prime driver of tobacco price policy during 1984-2005 was the gathering of revenue for general government funding. Another factor was the pressure to reduce tobacco-related harm. However, five constraints were: (1) the fear by politicians of losing political capital from excise rises, (2) the nature of the policy process; (3) the need to control inflation; (4) the fear of inflicting a net damage on the welfare of low-income smokers and their families; and (5) the belief in a particular concept of ‘individual sovereignty'. For parts of the period, the wishes of the tobacco industry were also a factor in tobacco price policy formation.
The evidence for revenue gathering as a motive include the 100/3 ratio of revenue to spending on tobacco control, the increasing levels of tobacco tax revenue in real terms, and statements by a taxation review committee and from government Ministers. The evidence for tobacco industry influence includes a draft Memorandum for Cabinet in 1991, Treasury advice, and public statements by politicians.