“The Government has continued the Nats’ weak approach to protecting tobacco retailers,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“The Government collects $1.7 billion per year in tobacco tax itself, and $1.9 billion when GST is included. This amount is forecast to grow to $2.2 billion by 2021.
“Stuart Nash is returning only $1.8 million, or 0.1% of revenue, to those business owners at most-risk of being robbed, assaulted or even murdered.
“Mr Nash says that 25 stores have applied for funding, but that represents only 0.005% of New Zealand’s 5000 tobacco retailers.
“The Herald reported last October that there had been about 500 robberies of tobacco retailers in a 13 month period. Tax increases are driving this behaviour.
“In 2016, the National Government put in place a punitive series of four annual tobacco tax increases.
“These tax increases will bring in $705 million for the government. Eric Crampton from the NZ Initiative has estimated that the poorest families will pay $178 million more in tax as a result.
“If Jacinda Ardern is serious about halving child poverty she will scrap this punitive tax on the poor.
“ACT calls on the government to cancel the remaining two tobacco tax increases,” says Mr Seymour.