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A smoke-free country? New Zealand taxes aim for it

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — There are smoke-free bars, smoke-free parks, even smoke-free college campuses. But a smoke-free country?

New Zealand’s government on Thursday squeezed smokers more than ever by announcing a 40 percent 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) a pack on average.

Officials hope higher taxes and new restrictions will bring the nation 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.



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