Tax slug helps to save us a packet

BREAKING THE HABIT: Louise Haskins quit smoking and saved $1800 in four months. Photo: Gareth Gardner 030914GGE02

BREAKING THE HABIT: Louise Haskins quit smoking and saved $1800 in four months. Photo: Gareth Gardner 030914GGE02

LOCAL ex-smokers have learned the value of quitting while you’re ahead, having kicked the habit and dodging this week’s dramatic cigarette tax spike. 

On Monday, a price hike was introduced to push packets of 20 cigarettes above $20 – a dollar a stick – which would cost smokers a whopping $7000 every year if they smoked a pack a day.

Louise Haskins, whose administrative job at Tamworth hospital means processing oxygen applications for people with lung cancer, has saved $1800 and avoided more than 2600 cigarettes in the past four months. 

Ms Haskins elected to quit on April 25 – the day that her grandmother (whom she never met) died of lung cancer 27 years ago. 

She was in part motivated by her father and boyfriend, but the rising price of cigarettes and her soaring credit card bill were also deciding factors. 

She said she had attempted to quit five or six times – using patches and Champix tablets – but she ultimately quit cold turkey. 

“I was smoking a pack of 40 in two days, but a pack a day on the weekends,” she said.

“It was a habit – as soon as I got in the car I would light up.

“Now I think it would just be a waste of time if I was to have another one.”

Local woman Kelly Roberts quit smoking more than two-and-a-half years ago and said “cost was the main reason”, but it was crucial to be mentally prepared.

She said rising prices would certainly stop some smokers, but not all. 

“It’s not just a substance addiction, it’s psychological too,” she said.

Cancer Council community programs co-ordinator for the New England Paul Hobson welcomed the price climb, noting the availability of cigarettes can be detrimental to those attempting to quit. 

Smoking disproportionately affects people from lower socio-economic status and the people who could least afford to smoke would feel the hip-pocket pain the most, Mr Hobson said. 

“Definitely the price factor would be a main driver in a person of lower income – that might be the last straw in their decision to quit.

“About a 10 per cent increase in the price of cigarettes can lead to the demand decreasing by 4 per cent.”

He said the price hike would lead 210,000 Australians to kick the habit.

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