May 24, 2012
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Canadian Press) -- There are smoke-free bars, smoke-free parks, even smoke-free college campuses. But a smoke-free country?
New Zealand's government Thursday squeezed smokers more than ever by announcing a 40 per cent hike in tobacco taxes over the next four years.
Prices there are already among the highest in the world, and by 2016 they will top 20 New Zealand dollars ($15.5 Cdn) a pack on average.
Officials hope higher taxes and new restrictions will bring the country of 4.4 million closer to a recent pledge to snuff out the habit entirely by 2025.
Other countries have lauded the idea of trying to wean their populace off tobacco, but few have put a date on it.
Smokers aren't happy about the taxes. One says low-income people might commit crimes to support their habit.
(c) The Canadian Press, 2012