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Cigarette excise rise won’t have desired effect, says Senator

Senator David Leyonhjelm thinks a mooted lift in the cigarette excise won’t have the effect the government wants.

There are reports the Turnbull government is considering a similar increase to the tobacco excise that Labor is planning to introduce.

But Mr Leyonhjelm said the plan would fail.

He said it would push smokers to look for illegal, unregulated avenues to find cigarettes.

‘The illegal market is now measured at about 14% of the total cigarette market,’ he said.

‘Organised crime is getting involved.’

Mr Leyonhjelm also said the government could just end up recouping its own money.

‘Smokers now are the lowest socio-economic group – Indigenous, prisoners, drug users,’ he said.

‘Quite a lot of them are on welfare.

‘So what we’ll get is the government paying money to these people and getting it back.’

Mr Leyonhjelm also said it was an ‘indictment’ on the government that they have copied Labor on this issue.

3AW listener David called Neil to say he won’t cut down on smoking even if the price doubles.

‘What would happen is I don’t drive as far, and I have cheaper cuts of meat,’ he said.

He said he smokes 200 cigarettes per week, costing him nearly half of his $430 weekly pension.

Click play to hear David’s story