Midnight cigarette tax grab targets the poor
The federal government will raise cigarette taxes from midnight tonight. The surprise move is designed to prevent consumers stockpiling cigarettes thereby beating the government out of a few dollars in taxes:
"Because of media speculation about the excise in recent days, there was real concern about changes to consumer behaviour and the importance of acting now," Mr Rudd said, saying the decision had been brought forward on advice from the Tax Office.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the Tax Office was already monitoring cigarette outlets for any signs of stockpiling among consumers today.
Hoping to impress voters with his toughness the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claims the excise will hurt evil tobacco companies rather than the consumers of tobacco products:
“This is a tough decision for the government,” he said. “It won't win the government any popularity. The big tobacco companies will hate what we are doing."
As if the expected $5 billion tax windfall won't be at the expense of the poor, those most likely to smoke.
Smokers already pay much more to the government through taxes than they receive in benefits and are subsidising those who live longer. If the government seriously wanted to tax a group of consumers who cost the government billions, it would dramatically raise alcohol taxes. But that would be very unpopular and isn't going to happen.
The surprise rise in cigarette tax is a cash grab pure and simple.