Charlie Simkin having one last cigarette before quitting cold turkey all in the name of an SCU research program called Smoking Cessation which investigates the effects that quitting without the use of medication has on individuals.
Charlie Simkin having one last cigarette before quitting cold turkey all in the name of an SCU research program called Smoking Cessation which investigates the effects that quitting without the use of medication has on individuals. Jay Cronan

Cigarette tax increases quitters

JUST a few short decades ago any government move to raise taxes on beer or cigarettes was considered electoral suicide – and un-Australian to boot.

Two weeks after the imposition of the hefty new tobacco tax the Federal Government’s latest foray into social engineering appears to be gaining traction.

While tobacco retailers report sales are steady, chemists are being inundated and general practitioners are reporting an increase in smokers seeking help.

While the latest polls suggest that almost three quarters of voters support the tax, the statistic that perhaps most dramatically signals the shifting addictions of contemporary Australia is the 26 per centof smokers who approve of the tax, including 22-year-old CharlieSimkin.

Mr Simkin smokes 30 a day and desperately wants to quit and has signed up with a new anti-smoking research program at Southern Cross University.

“My neighbour has got emphysema which has really hit me,” he said.

“She’s in her 70s and we have great chats across the fence, and she’s told me about the effects on her lifestyle and the pain she has to deal with in the mornings.

“Now I can see that I am just wasting a lot of money by smoking as well as contributing to my ill-health. I’m planning a trip to Europe and the money I save by not smoking is going to pay for that trip.”

Dr Andrew Binns, a GP at Goonellabah Medical Centre, said that while it’s early days there does appear to be a rise in people seeking scripts for drugs to assist quitting.

Goonellabah pharmacist Kate Daniel said the day after the tax was imposed she noticed a definite increase in customers seeking nicotine replacement therapy.

“One customer came in that day and said her brand rose to $96 a carton so she and her husband came here instead,” she said.

“In the last two weeks we’ve sold what we’d usually sell in a month.”

So it remains to be seen whether the good intentions will prevail. While we’re queuing up for help to quit, sales still seem to be holding.

The manager of Goonellabah IGA Garry Dawson says he has seen no change in sales.



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