Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says Customs has destroyed over 2.5 tonnes of abandoned tobacco and collected $1.35 million in additional duty and taxes since the drop in tobacco duty free limits last November.
“People seem to be learning about the change. The amount of tobacco abandoned at airports by those not wanting to pay duty is dropping from the 100 kilograms Customs was initially collecting every week,” Ms Wagner says.
“The change was well signalled in advance and advertising to highlight the change continues. Customs’ passenger surveys show most people are aware of and accept the change in regulations.
“Customs recorded over 7,600 individual transactions for people choosing to pay duty, with the total collected in the six months adding to over $1.35 million.
“Nonetheless, 2.5 tonnes of cigarettes and tobacco left at airports is an incredible amount, and I’m pleased Customs is actively supporting the aim of making New Zealand smoke-free by 2025,” Ms Wagner says.
Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga welcomed the reduction in the amount of tobacco being brought into New Zealand through airports.
“The amount, 2.5 tonnes, is staggering. Every time a traveller abandons their tobacco at Customs or decides not to bring it in at all, is a victory for our health system.
“The fact that people appear to be aware of the changes to our duty-free tobacco limits and accept them is confirmation that our Government’s policies are making a real difference.
“We are determined to reduce the harm tobacco causes and the cost to our health system. The new duty-free tobacco limits, together with tax increases on tobacco sold in New Zealand, are pricing tobacco out of reach of many users. This is reflected in the numbers of smokers giving up tobacco,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.
Notes for editors
From 1 November last year, passengers have to declare any tobacco over the 50 cigarettes or 50 gram limit, and either dispose of the excess or pay duty on it. Tobacco sent by mail or cargo also no longer qualifies for a gift allowance.