The chairman of the National Preventative Health Taskforce, Professor Rob Moodie, says tobacco hovers ominously as either Australia’s number one or number two killer. The good news is that price affects consumption. Says Moodie: “The calculations are that if you increase each cigarette stick by 2.5 cents, then that will decrease consumption by nearly 3%.”
This presents the Rudd government with a pretty clear challenge: deliver a budget package that prices smoking out of the health debate. They’ve proved nanny-minded enough to move on alcopops, have made obesity a defining policy pillar of their first months, but can Rudd and Co deliver a budget that fuels that most timeless of tabloid banners: “Beer, cigs up!” We wait in hope.