QUITLINE poised for surge in Quit calls

While most New Zealanders will be taking a well-deserved break on New Year’s Day, Quitline’s Wellington office expects to be a hive of activity as staff support smokers to beat their addiction.

A 10% increase in tobacco tax takes effect on January 1 and is expected to push the price of an average pack of cigarettes up to $20. This, coupled with New Year resolutions to lead healthier lives, means a heavy workload for Quitline’s call centre.

“January is always our busiest month and we know a price increase prompts hundreds of smokers to try to quit the addiction,” says Quitline CEO, Paula Snowden.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to further tobacco tax increases in 2015 and 2016 and encourage it to impose even further increases over future years and in a way that hits the tobacco industry in its back pocket.

“At present the industry manipulates pricing to impose the lowest price increases on low-cost brands and the highest increases on more expensive brands. This allows New Zealand’s three tobacco companies to reduce the tax increase impact on their volume market which is low income smokers where prevalence is highest.”

Quitline phone lines (0800 778 778) are open from 8.00am – 9.30pm on New Year’s Day and Advisers are ready to talk to anyone who wants to chat about quitting. By signing up to Quitline’s website www.quit.org.nz, people can access a full quit smoking support programme. They can also order subsidised patches, gum and lozenges online.